In an effort to "clean up an eyesore and improve the area," the Thomson City Council has approved the construction of 12 houses off of Forest Clary Drive.
Approximately 16 residents of the existing neighborhood attended both the Planning Board meeting and the City Council meeting to protest the construction. The residents expressed concerns of increased traffic they said would cause more noise, a growing drainage problem and that the houses would turn into rental property attracting undesirable tenants.
The houses will be built by Crossland Development, which is owned by brothers Danny and Wade Matthews. Danny Matthews said he and his brother grew up on Dixie Drive, which dead ends into Forest Clary Drive, and they are just trying to improve the neighborhood.
"If you've got a choice between nice houses occupied by the owners, and low income rental homes, personally if it was my property, then I'd rather have the new housing," Mr. Matthews said. "We are real good friends with about 75 percent of the people who came to the meeting, So I don't want to get into any of the negatives with them, and I'm hoping it will go forward in a positive manner from now on."
The new houses will range from 1250 to 1400 sq. ft. on one-third acre lots, and will sell for $120,000 to $150,000, according to Mr. Matthews. When resident Dorothy Harrison suggested building four or five houses instead of 12, Mr. Matthews said that isn't feasible.
"The infrastructure is so much that each lot would be way out of the price range (for that area)," he said. "We have to put in everything: sewer, water, roads, gutters, street lights, power, the whole nine yards. The citizens just wanted us to put four houses, but it's just not economically feasible for us to do that."
In spite of the number of residents at the meeting, Mr. Matthews said he has received positive response from others who "said they were glad somebody was doing something with the property."
Thomson Mayor Bob Knox said the new houses will be a way to stop noise and unkempt property by "encouraging people to own their own homes and take pride in them."
"I will live with whatever y'all decide," resident Otis Harrison said to the City Council. "But when the noise gets so bad, then I'm going to start calling the Mayor at night, so don't leave your phone off the hook."
With the city receiving Community Development Block Grant money to rehabilitate housing around Pitt Street, Mr. Matthews said he is excited about the new developments.
"When the block grant goes through and they start on that, and then we start on our construction, then it should be a big positive for the whole area," he said.
According to Mr. Matthews, clearing for the new road and construction of his company's proposed neighborhood will begin in the spring of 2007.