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Developer plans large subdivision on Whiteoak

An Augusta developer is eyeing 190 acres of land near Thomson High School and the planned new junior high school for a subdivision that could bring hundreds of new homes to the area.

Though he has yet to file any official paperwork, Otis Crowell has already talked with local development officials, and said he's serious about the project.

"It isn't on a piece of paper yet, but yes, we are committed to come there and build homes," Mr. Crowell said Monday.

He said if it is built, the new development would have brick ranch homes ranging from 1,500 to 1,900 square feet. For now, he's not saying how many homes, as his planners are still hammering out the details for the land.

Still, with any large-scale residential development, there are some hurdles for Mr. Crowell to clear before he can even break ground. For example, he said he's already working with the state on wetlands issues.

But looming largest is sewerage. Water lines are already in the Whiteoak Road area, but sewer lines are not, said Planning and Zoning Director Fred Guerrant. At this point, it will be up to Mr. Crowell to cover the cost of extending the sewer lines to his property - an expensive prospect.

Mr. Crowell said he's working with local leaders to develop a sewer solution, and he's prepared for any other problems that might crop up.

"There's always trouble," he said. "There are always surprises. But it's workable."

Meanwhile, more homes will mean more students for local schools. This is no problem with two new schools already in the planning stages, according to Superintendent Mark Petersen. The Superintendent said the new junior high school will alleviate 25 percent of the students from the high school and 30 percent from the middle school. The new Norris Elementary will also provide room for growth.

"So, I've got room," Dr. Petersen said. "We are trying to look ahead. We are trying to build for the future. You do your best with looking at the current data, and things that are going to change, like the population. We are ready."

There won't be a sudden growth spurt in the population anytime soon, however. Mr. Guerrant said the application and approval process, and installing a sewerage system will take "quite some time."

Mr. Crowell said he is only in the process of "getting the groundwork done," and he estimates it will be the first of next year before he has anything down on paper. He said there will not be a large number of houses immediately, but he expects the subdivision to be large in about 10 years.

Web posted on Thursday, August 17, 2006

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