Two Controversial Votes At Valdosta City Council; One Approved, One Denied

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Updated By: Winnie Wright
October 24, 2014

Valdosta, GA - The Valdosta City Council had a lot on its plate Thursday as it voted on two different controversial topics.

After months of fighting, the residents of Alden Park in Valdosta weren't able to save a neighboring home.

The fate of the so-called 'Nichols House' near the Valdosta State University campus was decided in last night's City Council Meeting. After a six to one vote the council stated that the home was not 'historic', making the lot available to developer, Turner Brooks LLC, who wants to put an apartment complex in its place. The only other option for the 'Nichols House' is to be moved to another location.

In the same meeting, the Valdosta City Council gave Scintilla Charter Academy the go-ahead to build a new school at 2171 East Park Avenue.

Winnie Wright
October 23, 2014

Valdosta, GA - For months, residents of Alden Park have fought a losing battle to keep an apartment complex out of their neighborhood.

Their final push: to get 'The Nichols House', one of the homes the developer wants, on the city's historic map. Thursday, they'll find out if the the home will be considered 'historic', which they say, could save their neighborhood.

"The residents are using this as another means to try to stop the building of those apartments or delay them", says Valdosta Mayor, John Gayle.

However, Mayor Gayle says the City Council already approved the rezoning permit for the surrounding land, meaning the apartment complex could still be built, even without the 'Nichols House'.

After serving as a frat house for the last decade, and being vandalized when SAE left campus, Mayor Gayle says the 'Nichols House' is in deplorable condition, and would cost somebody a pretty penny to get the home up to snuff.

"If it was declared historic, then it would fall back on the property owners, the SAE Fraternity. I would imagine at that time, they would sue The City for reverse condemnation."

Mayor Gayle says a lawsuit against The City would create a whole other set of problems.

City Council will meet Thursday at 5:30 in City Hall.

Updated By: Winnie Wright
September 16, 2014

Valdosta, GA - A historic home near the Valdosta State University Campus may put a wrinkle in plans for a new apartment complex on the lot.

In last week's Valdosta City Council meeting, Council voted five to two in favor of re-zoning nearly 4 acres of land in the Alden Park Community. Neighbors in the community stand firmly against the development, which would include a 180-bed student-geared apartment complex, and say it takes away from their neighborhood.

"Safety has been one of our concerns." "We see no need", say residents of Alden Park.

But according to Valdosta's Historic Preservation Commission, one house, the so-called Nicols House, could determine the future of the entire neighborhood.

"Because an application has been filed for that historic designation, there's interim protection, currently in place for the Nicols house", says Emily Foster, City of Valdosta Historic Preservation Planner.

According to Foster, that application may change the face of the project all together.

The Nichols House sits on the corner of Baytree Road and Azalea Drive and has spend the better part of recent years as the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity House.

What makes this house so special, you may ask? The Preservation Commission says...It's architecture. On October 6th, The Preservation Commission will make a recommendation to The City...and on October 23rd, Council will vote on the home's historic status. If deemed Historic, Foster says the commission will have to give permission, to move the home, demolish it, or re-purpose it.

The Attorney for the Alden Park Home Owners Association says the community has filed an Ante Litem Notice with The City of Valdosta because of the rezoning. She says they plan to seek "all legal remedies available to them."

Winnie Wright
September 11, 2014

Valdosta, GA - Thursday's Valdosta City Council meeting is expected to draw a packed house. The Council may vote on whether or not to re-zone roughly 4 acres near the Valdosta State campus to accomodate a new apartment complex with 180 beds.

According to The City, the Developer, Turner Brooks, wants to buy multiple lots at the corner of Azalea and Baytree Roads, in order to build an apartment complex geared towards students.

"My main concern is the increase in the number of individuals that are going to be in the neighborhood and everything that goes with that. So that includes traffic, noise, issues with parking, and litter", says Alden Park Resident, Colleen McDonough.

She says, adding those 180 beds would increase their community by 50%. But is there a demand for those beds?

"There is a need for multi-family, I think, through the community. Although there has been some debate, here as of late, as to whether there is a demand for multi-family student housing. Long term, I think the University plans to continue growing, even though their student body has not been growing lately", says Matt Martin, The City of Valdosta's Planning and Zoning Administrator.

Residents of Alden Park, say they don't agree.

"Surrounding the campus, there are over 400 rooms that are available for rent. Plus the 270 dorm rooms that are currently empty. Adding 180 rooms, adding more supply where there is not demand in our view is an issue", says Alden Park Resident, Sarah Bartholomew.

City Council could vote on the proposal as early as Thursday night.