Two apartment complexes were voted down by the Oakwood City Council on Monday after deep opposition from the nearby neighborhoods.
After years of commercial development in the South Hall city, more residential projects have been trickling into Oakwood in 2018 — a community that draws more of its tax base from businesses than residents.
As the South Hall sprawl makes its way north from Flowery Branch, some in Oakwood are frustrated with the changes that are working their way into the community.
“What’s going on is society has been pushed back,” said Oakwood resident and land surveyor Joe Savage on Monday. “You’ve got a community here with heart, and you’ve got dollars and cents that’s surrounding it, choking it off.”
Savage was speaking against Shadow Stone Partners’ plan to build a 60-unit apartment complex for adults 55 and older on 5 acres on Woodlane Drive southeast of Oakwood City Hall.
Residents of Woodlane Drive and Plainview Road, the area around Oakwood Cemetery, turned out en masse to oppose the apartment complex — especially members of the Kilby family of Woodlane Drive.
Developer Keith Cook said the three-story complex took into account concerns from both city planners and the community, noting that his team had added fencing, tree buffers and changed the amenities for the complex.
However, the updated plans for the community were delivered to the city about 5:15 p.m. on Monday — fewer than two hours before the City Council meeting. Community Development Director B.R. White said the city didn’t have time to thoroughly vet the documents, but Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs noted they appeared to take into account the concerns from planners and area residents.
That didn’t stop a torrent of opposition against the 5-acre development, including some who felt an apartment complex would rip apart what has been a quiet neighborhood.
“We cannot allow these big-box snake oil salesmen to destroy our community,” said Keith Kilby, of Woodlane Drive.
Comments from others in the meeting were much the same: People worried about effects on property values, traffic and local crime.
Ultimately, council members decided against a rezone that would allow the project to go forward in an almost-unanimous vote. Only Councilman Todd Wilson, who wanted to table the vote until the council had time to review the updated plans, voted against denying the rezone request.
And that wasn’t the only project shot down on Monday. Council members also rejected an ambitious apartment complex on 11.27 acres that would have meant annexing the land into Oakwood and moving forward with a planned residential development. Cardinal Atlanta hoped to build a sizeable apartment complex with 168 units, a clubhouse and pool at 3625 McEver Road north of Oakwood.
The tract sits between McEver United Methodist Church and Old Pleasant Hill Road on McEver Road. The project was initially criticized because it would have had access from both McEver Road and Old Pleasant Hill Road, but the Old Pleasant Hill entrance was cut to respond to community concerns.
Once again, making changes to the plan didn’t spare the project from criticism on Monday. No one spoke in favor of the plan and the developer didn’t show up.
“When I bought my home, I bought it there to live my life out without even expecting apartments,” said Angie Brighton, a 30-year resident of the nearby area. “We get our little neighborhood invaded like this. We have a quiet neighborhood.”
The council again voted almost unanimously against allowing the project to forward, in this case voting against annexing the property. Only Wilson dissented from the council’s decision.