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City council approves senior citizen development on Wrens Highway

At a Thomson City Council meeting last month, some local residents expressed dismay over a proposed senior citizens center that would be built on the southern outskirts of town.

Nevertheless, councilmen voted to rezone the proposed site last week, allowing construction of the development to continue.

"This project would be well-built and well maintained, and that's the key," said Thomson Mayor Bob Knox.

The development, proposed by a group called Horizon Properties, will encompass 28 acres off Wrens Highway near Jefferson Electric.

The mixed-use development -- first reported in The McDuffie Mirror -- will center around a 130-unit, low-cost, independent-living community for residents 62 years old and older.

"This is a very exciting project to have worked on because of the ultimate benefit to the community," said Gary Willingham, one of the developers.

While the city council has given the green light to the rezoning, developers will need to come back before the city council to have their site development plan approved.

"That's one of the conditions that the planning commission board and therefore the city council placed on this development...before you make any development plans about the rest of the property, you've got to go through this process again," said Planning Director Fred Guerrant. "The project in general has been approved, but specifically it has not."

At last month's meeting, Dianne Perry, who lives in the adjacent Pine Hills neighborhood, said it wasn't the senior citizens center that concerned her. It was the rest of the property slated to be developed as apartments, single-family homes and businesses. Residents also said they were concerned about the long-term fate of the land, especially if the current developers ever leave.

"If this is not what it is supposed to be, if it does not pan out, we will have triple the problems we have right now," she said, adding that her neighborhood has already been negatively affected by mixing property uses.

Mr. Knox said the property has sat idle for 40 years, and is ready for the development to be done correctly.

"It's just growing trees there now," he said. "If we just stick our head in the sand, it'll keep on going that way."



Web posted on Thursday, June 17, 2004


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