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Old Dawson Road traffic threatens housing plan

Property of slightly less than 25 acres along Old Dawson Road is being considered for development by Danny Blackshear, whose plan has drawn protest from residents who live along Old Dawson. Critics say the addition of as many as 92 new housing units along the busy road could further impede trafffic flow. (March 14, 2013)

Property of slightly less than 25 acres along Old Dawson Road is being considered for development by Danny Blackshear, whose plan has drawn protest from residents who live along Old Dawson. Critics say the addition of as many as 92 new housing units along the busy road could further impede trafffic flow. (March 14, 2013)

ALBANY, Ga. -- Where several others before him have failed, Albany developer Danny Blackshear thinks he has a workable plan for development of the 25 acres of attractive land at 3101 Old Dawson Road. It's a plan, though, that's not without complications.

Blackshear says his $15 million development plan to put a combined 92 apartment, townhouse and single-family housing units on the property will bring in between $350,000 and $500,000 in yearly tax revenue for the county. Current tax records show the property brings in slightly more than $3,500 a year.

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Ellen White/submitted photo

Residents along Old Dawson Road fear collisions like this one that occurred at the corner of Trowbridge Lane and Devon Drive will become more common if a proposed development brings additional traffic onto Old Dawson. (Submitted March 14, 2013)

But people who live on or near Old Dawson Road -- many of whom expressed their displeasure with Blackshear's plan at recent meetings of the Albany/Dougherty Planning Commission -- say there are serious flaws with the plan, not the least of which is the potential to further gum up the area's already frequently snarled traffic flow.

"I feel a little better after talking with the Planning Commission, but there are four areas of major concern that we have (with developing the Old Dawson property)," Ellen White, the coordinator of the nearby Fairfield 1 Neighborhood Watch program, said Thursday. "We feel that the areas of safety, traffic, need and environment should be thoroughly discussed before development of that land starts.

"We understand that that land is going to be developed, that it needs to be developed. But before it is, we think those four areas should be addressed."

The Planning Commission has already recommended approval of Blackshear's request to change the conditions on which development in that area is based, but the recommendation comes with an additional condition that Blackshear says may be a deal-breaker. One of the conditions suggested by the Planning Commission is that "access to Pointe North Blvd. or Kensington Court (northeast of Old Dawson) must be completed prior to issuance of any building permits."

SECOND ENTRYWAY

The developer says that requirement would be too costly to make the razor-thin profit/loss margin of the project feasible.

"As our plan is now, only the (20) single-family and (32) townhouse residents would have access to Old Dawson," Blackshear said. "The only access to the (40-unit) apartment complex would be through Kensington, so residents of only 52 of the units would impact the traffic on Old Dawson. And that would come in under the traffic capacity."

Engineer Tod Lanier, with Lanier Engineering, confirmed the traffic count numbers.

"The city supplied us traffic studies, and with 52 new residents (entering onto Old Dawson) we would come in slightly under the capacity for that road," Lanier said.

Planning Director Paul Forgey confirmed that the capacity traffic count for Old Dawson from Pointe North Boulevard to Colonial Drive is designed for usage by no more than 16,600 vehicles per day, while capacity count from Colonial to Wexford Drive on Old Dawson is 18,600. A recent count completed by city traffic engineers shows usage by 16,108 vehicles.

"If you add the projections for the single-family units and the townhouses, the count would be around 16,485," Planning Manager Mary Teter said.

Blackshear said adding a second entry for the townhouse and single-family units would add an estimated $200,000 to $240,000 to the cost of the project.

"With the cost of the property, (adding the second entry/exit) would make the whole development a challenge financially," he said. "I have made concessions on some of the other elements of the plan -- such as lot sizes and sizes of the single-family units and the townhouses -- and I hope the (Albany City) Commission will allow us to move forward without the condition of adding the second entryway.

"If they're not willing to do that, I will have to talk with the property owner about renegotiating the cost of the land. If they're not open to that, all of this may turn out to be moot."

City Commissioner Bob Langstaff, whose Ward V includes the property on Old Dawson Road, said he's worked to keep Blackshear and citizens in the area as fully informed on the issues surrounding the proposal as possible. But he said he's limited in just what he can and can't say.

"According to the city attorney (Nathan Davis), I have to abstain from voting or trying to sway my fellow commissioners one way or the other on the proposed rezoning because Albany Realty (for which Blackshear is a principal) is managing some property for me," Langstaff said in an email to The Herald. "Since it could indirectly influence their vote, I also don't think it would be proper for me to offer any opinion on the proposed rezoning to the media."

SAFETY CONCERNS

White said her priority concern about the proposed development is the safety factor.

"There has been much discussion about the traffic issue -- and rightfully so -- but I think the safety of our neighborhoods around this development should be discussed," she said. "There are a lot of elderly citizens and a lot of children that live around that area. And there are a number of people who walk and jog in those neighborhoods. We already have issues with people cutting through our neighborhoods as shortcuts to U.S. 82, Gillionville and some of the other roads around here.

"There's also the question of what will happen with the wildlife on that property once development starts. We're seeing more and more deer, raccoons and even foxes on that land -- they got all the okra I planted last year -- and you have to wonder how this will affect them. I'm just not sure any of our concerns will be addressed before they start development."

Forgey said he's not sure he could recommend the commission approve Blackshear's development plan without a second access for all residents who might locate there.

"From a planning perspective, transition in an area like this is important," Forgey said. "They've actually done a good job of buffering the different elements around the development, so from that perspective it is a good plan.

"But that road (Old Dawson) is close to capacity as it is. I don't think I'd feel very good about that project without a second access. The citizens have a right to be concerned about the traffic issues."

The City Commission will get its first look at Blackshear's proposal at its work session Tuesday and will vote on the matter at its night meeting March 26.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

With the housing glut in Albany and prices down 40%...........this idea is very stupid.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm with sister. There are too many sitting vacant in Albany as it is. So it may be forced into low income housing and that could be bad, very bad. There is no law that states that they must be luxury housing and so far that area of town has kept them out. May not be so lucky on this one. Albany is about to implode as it is and nothing is written in blood anymore. The traffic problem is a whole nother issue and I am for that problem too. Too much!

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 7 months ago

Good point about the low income housing. I fear that as well and I know some neighborhood watch groups would have the commission's heads if that were to happen.

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

What will happen with apartment rentals is the new complex will easily fill up with monied renters moving to the "better digs". As they leave, those complexes will start to accept Sec 8 housing choice vouchers, if they don't already. And the formerly nice complexes begin a more rapid decline. Not all developers are going to fill vacancies with whatever is available, but some will and they will pay the price over time. It is a problem now in some nice residential single family housing areas as spec house are rented Sec 8.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 7 months ago

I have to agree with Ruby this time. There is plenty of housing in Do. Co. as far as rentals are concerned. Many sit vacant because so many people have moved away from this town to live somewhere where the schools are better. I just don't think the project would be a success right now with the housing market the way it is. Plus, I have enviromental concerns as well. I care about the animals in the area. Also, the area is getting so congested that I think it would cause major problems. Just not a good idea right now.

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VSU 1 year, 7 months ago

Guess they are trying to lower the house market values on Old Dawson Road. This is about as stupid as building another business complex with so many vacant as it is.

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Jimboob 1 year, 7 months ago

I live out in that area and have often wondered, why hasn't Old Dawson been 4 laned, at least to the bend at Home road? That would sure help traffic flow.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

They need another way for all those Lee Co rednecks and nouveau riche personnes noirs aux Mercedes Benzes to get from Winford to Dawson road besides Old Dawson.

I know I"M freaking sick of seeing that.

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

Be glad you have the Lee 'neckers, Ruby, to buy from our businesses. It is revenue from businesses that is keeping this Albany,DoCo thing afloat. I think Lee would be thrilled to have DoCo business money and leave the citizens spending it to live in DoCo. Take away the Lee folks and watch taxes go up--even more.

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, Jim, it was originally planned for 4-lane but was reduced to 3-land probably as a concession to homeowners who would lose more frontage and be more costly for the city to buy. It is an active project but the sewers had to be first.

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TheMember 1 year, 7 months ago

Ok, so let me get this straight. The man goes out and buys a piece of property and wants to build a nice upscale complex on a piece of property that has been sitting for sale for years, and everyone is up in arms about it? Two things come to mind reading the comments from Sister, VSU etc. whom are usually conservative as the day is long, but now degrading the man for trying to put some construction people to work? The other, the neighbors around the property just need to shut up and accept the progress. Why you ask, well the property has been for sale for years and I am sure they have had numerous opportunities to purchase the property and preserve all the wildlife they want, but now someone buys it and all of a sudden they are up in arms about it. If I had to guess, this "good ole boy" as you call him, is going to put some housing on the land and the neighbors are scared too death a black family may move into the neighborhood. I hate to tell it like it is, but I don't think anyone can say I am wrong. SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR THE NEIGHBORS OR ANYONE ELSE, I AM SURE HE WILL SELL THE PROPERTY FOR WHAT HE BOUGHT IT FOR SO YOU CAN PRESERVE THE WILDLIFE.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

Yes, you are in fact a MEMBER.

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TheMember 1 year, 7 months ago

good comeback Sister, only you make no sense. Why stop the man from trying to start progress? The neighbors want somebody to own the land and not do anything with it? Just another form of "I want someone else to do something for me" attitude. All they had to do is buy the property. Well I guess it is too late and they will have to watch the hammers and nails fly now.

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VSU 1 year, 7 months ago

"The neighbors are scared to death a black family may move into the neighborhood. " NEWSFLASH! Some black families already live in the neighborhood. So you will need to come up with something better than that.

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

Com'on Member or Blackshear or whatever this was planned as HUD housing in order to make economic sense. Maybe you should consider changing it to home health care then good old Fletch could run interference for you by reminding everyone he was born a poor black man and is ordained righteous.

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Thurman 1 year, 7 months ago

The property in question has not been sold to anyone, yet. Dan Blackshear has made an offer for the property "contingent" on certain things happening such as the second egress point. This twenty-five (25) acre tract has been for sale for years but the fact that it only has one egress point, Old Dawson Rd., has prevented this property from development. I happen to know a developer from the Atlanta area who was doing the same thing as Dan Blalckshear, offering to buy the property, with "contingents", only to be told by the City that a second egress point would be necessary for development. The properties along the northern boundary are private properties so no deal could be worked out for that development. Now that the City has acquired property to build the new road between Old Dawson Rd. and Kensington Ct. this would indeed allow a second egress point for Mr. Blackshear. This new City street/road is to help alleviate the traffic flow between Pointe North Blvd. and Devon Dr. How that would work I cannot understand. The new street does seem to have been a rush order to complete just in time for Mr. Blackshear to request his second egress point for his planned development at an opportune time. Seems as if the same thing happened when Mr. Blackshear wanted to develop properties at the ends of Old Dominion Rd. and Covey Rd. some years back but there was only one egress point for these low rent duplexes. Suddenly the City decided that these two streets needed to be extended to allow this second egress point. Just saying.

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