VALDOSTA — Despite opposition from some residents, Valdosta City Council approved two apartment projects in the Baytree Road area.

The first item involved rezoning three parcels from multi-family residential with four conditions to multi-family residential with one condition removed. The second item was for a planned development for one of two proposed apartment complexes located at 406 Baytree Road.

The rezoning case began five years ago when a developer had eight parcels along Baytree Road and Pine Tree Road zoned for multi-family residential with the condition the parcels be considered as one parcel for a single, large complex.

However, the large project failed and the property was eventually broken into smaller parts for two separate apartment complexes that were built by Joe and Jon Nijem.

Joe Nijem submitted the request to do the same thing again, zoning the new property in a similar way to build two additional apartment complexes.

Residents living behind the proposed project said they are worried about the influx of people and traffic in the area following the development of the new apartment complexes.

They are mostly concerned with the apartment project proposed for the corner of Pine Tree Road and Azalea Drive. 

They are concerned with the proposed complex facing Pine Tree Road, which is a residential neighborhood behind Baytree Road. Conditions for the proposed apartment complex include no vehicular or pedestrian access to Pine Tree Road and a buffer zone with trees and a fence must be added. City officials assured residents these conditions would be upheld.

Jon Nijem spoke to the council and said he and his brother want to make Baytree Road uniform.

"This is all we want to do," Jon Nijem said.

Walter Hobbs spoke at length against the ordinance and the proposed apartment that would be located at the corner of Pine Tree.

He said he isn't against the developers building along Baytree, but he said he is worried about the number of people it would bring into the neighborhood.

"We are losing our neighborhoods in Valdosta," Hobbs said. "Y'all here put us in a terrible situation. The only reason we're here (at the meeting) is because (the developers) came to Pine Tree."

The second ordinance approved involved the planned development for one of the apartment complexes. The applicant proposed a complex with 12 one-bedroom units on half an acre of land along Baytree Road.

City staff did not recommend council approve the request due to the population density, according to city documents. The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission recommended the approval with a 5-4 vote. 

Council approved the ordinance 4-2, with Councilwoman Sandra Tooley and Vivian Miller-Cody voting against.

Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256

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