It was standing room only Nov. 4 at the Hinesville City Council meeting as residents who live on Floyd Street, North Main, Olmstead Drive, Bradwell Street and the surrounding areas spoke out opposing a proposed 40-unit apartment complex at 602 North Main Street.
The council opposed the rezoning petition by Dustin McCain, owner of DCCJ Properties.
He wanted the council to rezone the property from O-I, or Office Institutional District, to R-A1, Multi-Family Dwelling District. McCain wants to build five buildings, each with eight two- or three-bedroom, two story high apartments.
Before the vote, McCain said he planned to offer much needed housing and anticipated renting them mostly to military families.
He said the apartment complex would be an improvement to the community and have a 20-foot vegetation buffer to limit noise and intrusions.
He said the project would not increase traffic, and promised to manage the complex and not allow things that would impact neighbors’ quality of life, like playing rap music all night long or letting people work on their “junk,” cars in the parking areas.
McCain said when he bought the property, the house was abandoned and unkept. He also said he found evidence vagrants were living in an outdoor shed he has since demolished.
“In my personal opinion a vacant lot is a lot more dangerous to the surrounding neighborhood than a well kept apartment complex,” McCain said. Council members asked McCain if he got input from the community, Mc-Cain said he had not. Councilwoman Diana Reid suggested he use the neighborly friendly approach. She said this community is mainly comprised of homeowners that have been at their homes for several decades and “feel comfortable.”
“They are at ease and they want to remain that way,” she said. “Not saying it is right. Not saying it is wrong or that they own the area. But when they choose their home, they choose it for a reason.”
One by one residents ask City Council to vote against rezoning.
Marnie Iverson said she has three generations of family that live in the neighborhood.
“That intersection goes from a fourlane to a two-lane,” she said. “It bottlenecks at a red light and it is notoriously dangerous.”
Iverson said her mother was involved in a wreck at that intersection that left her with ongoing back issues. “That main road becomes a parking lot into Fort Stewart already. So, to say it is not going to cause a traffic problem is false. You have 270 plus people concerned about this. And we are the constituents, not the people that are going to come and go in an apartment.”
Michael St. Onge presented a letter of opposition to the Council representing 275 residents who opposed the plan. He said he had a confrontation with McCain once before when he called the inspection department to report the shed was being demolished without a permit.
“He said I was trespassing and he told me to leave and I left,” St. Onge said adding McCain was definitely not neighborly friendly. “But he told me regardless of what, when he was done, and how kind he is, that I would wish I did not live there and he’ll make me leave.”
St. Onge said McCain called him names and said he had a low IQ.
He also reminded Council the property was originally zoned single family dwellings.
Many opposed said it was too much density growth in a low-density area. Most said they aren’t opposed to new housing but that spot was the wrong spot for this type of expansion. Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Jason Floyd who lives in and represents the district said he was contacted by many of his constituents.
“It’s unanimous opposition to this project,” he said. “I’m not in favor of this project either. I think the density of having that many units in 2.7 acres of land is just too many people in too small of an area. I’m not opposed to growth but I don’t think this is the proper place for that many units.”