Valdosta Daily Times

February 6, 2013

McAlister strikes deal with preservation commission

Eleven houses to be razed by March 15, six immediately

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — An issue between McAlister Development and the Valdosta Historic Preservation Commission over what to do with 11 old houses preventing the development of a piece of property seems to have been solved.

At the Valdosta City Council meeting Tuesday night, City Manager Larry Hanson explained that the Commission and McAlister struck an agreement Tuesday morning after more than two months of negotiations.

In a 3-1 decision, the Commission approved the immediate demolition of six of the 11 houses on the property bounded by East Brookwood Drive, North Oak Street, North Toombs Street and West Jane Street, as well as the demolition of the other five effective March 15, with conditions.

Per the agreement, McAlister must prove it has achieved financial backing for the entire project before the other five houses can be torn down, and the company is not allowed to clear-cut trees from the property until April. McAlister found the conditions favorable, Hanson said.

McAlister was asked by the Commission in December to put forth a “good faith effort” in attempting to relocate the houses from the property before the company would be allowed to destroy them. The company placed newspaper ads announcing the sale of the houses for $10 plus the cost of removal, but there were few leads.

The difficulties in attempting to fulfill this request by the Commission left McAlister between a rock and a hard place when it came to funding the project. Without the permits to build, the company could not acquire loans to begin construction.

Relocation of the houses no longer seemed like a viable option or a reasonable request given the lack of interest, so McAlister approached the Council in January to appeal the Commission’s decision. That same appeal appears on Thursday’s agenda, but will likely be removed if McAlister officially accepts the terms of the new agreement with the Commission, Hanson said.

There are no other action items on the agenda except for appointments to the Commission and to the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee.

The terms of two Commission members, Mary Bryant and Latesha Bradley, will expire Feb. 13. Bryant has expressed an interest in serving again, but Bradley has not. In addition to Bryant, Henry Byron Courson of Valdosta Insurance Services, Randall S. Crews of Crews Engineering and William P. Reeves, retiree from South Georgia Pecan, have applied for appointment to the Commission.

The terms of four members on the CDBG Committee, Susan Johnson, Rebecca Taylor, Barthaniel Werts Jr., and Anthony Bellamy, will expire Feb. 24. Taylor and Bellamy have expressed interest in reappointment, but Werts and Johnson have not, leaving two positions open.

There is only one other applicant, Jessica R. Young, attorney for Langdale Vallotton LLP, meaning there are three applicants to four positions. The Council plans to address that issue later in the year.

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