No mold or unpaid contractors this time for Moody Housing @ GLPC 2013-07-29

Unlike Moody AFB’s last go at privatizing housing, no mold or unpaid contractors this time, or so we’re told. But not so solid assurances that local contractors will be used. And what if this new thing turns into something radically different like Nelson Hill did only a short way up Val Del? GLPC Voting

Speaking for that proposed privatized Moody housing on Val Del Road, Lawyer Tom Kurrie said this was “an opportunity for our community”. He spelled out that the proposal was “90 homes for off-base houses, for enlisted personnel, non-commissioned officers, and officers”, with gates. He went on about Balfour Beatty‘s experience in building such housing, and their option to build Phase II, although at the moment they’re only requesting Phase I. He said “the unfortunate issue that took place with the prior development” would not occur with this one.

I can guess he’s referring to the mold issue, Beth Mahoney detailed in Little Rock Military Families Examiner 6 April 2009.

Or since he lauded Balfour Beatty’s credit rating, maybe he was referring to the nonpayment of subcontractors, as Kari L. Sands wrote for VDT, 4 March 2007, Military housing woes: Non-payment forces work on military housing project to stop.

Preferred Builders and Renovators, LLC., the Home Builders Association of South Georgia and CMS/ Dumpster Co. are among those affected. Subcontractors are alleging that SRC Construction, a division of Carabetta Corporate Office located in Meriden, Conn., withheld funding, defrauded, and has now successfully damaged as many as 40 industry contractors and vendors in the area. Sources reveal that eight of these 40 industry contractors are now bankrupt, several have filed liens, and two have pending fraud charges.

Kari L. Sands wrote for VDT 16 August 2007, Housing privatization woes: Moody not only base affected,

Currently, Moody has a total of two homes completed of 400 planned. Among other air bases experiencing difficulties, at Hanscom Air Force Base, only 17 new houses were completed out of 784 proposed, and 163 completed at Patrick of 552 proposed units. At Little Rock, 25 homes have been built out of 1,200 promised, according to the Record -Journal in Meriden, Conn.

The suit filed by Regions Bank against Moody Family Housing LLC, a Carabetta partnership, the Bank is attempting to get the court to appoint a receiver to take possession and authority over Moody Family Housing LLC’s assets.

Accordingly, Carabetta’s attorney Scott Consoli believes a takeover would leave millions in unpaid debts to subcontractors and vendors in jeopardy if it forecloses on the project. Accordingly, Carabetta is trying to convince the bondholder to release enough cash to pay the subcontractors.

“Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga. has had the most problems, although work also stopped at bases in Little Rock, Ark., Hanscom, Mass. and Patrick Air Force Base, Fl. Shaw is a partner in every project except Moody,” reported the Record- Journal on August 3, 2007.

Franklin Bailey Commissioner Franklin Bailey (also president of the local Homebuilders Association) wanted to know whether these houses would be owned or rented. Kurrie clarified that they would be rental property, which is why they’re all in one lot. Also they would not be open to the general public. Instead, Moody personnel would get a housing allowance that would go to the developer as rent.

Scott Another Commissioner asked whether it would be possible for local people to rent “those things”. Somebody named Scott said that was still being worked out, but there was a “12-rung waterfall” down military ranks, and only after all of those who wanted to rent had and occupancy had fallen before a certain level would anyone else be able to rent.

Bailey noted:

It’s apparent that any local developers and builders are not going to have any win-win situation out of this, because it’s going to be an out-of-town company be coming to do this. So what guarantee do we have that local subs are going to get the benefit of working on that site.

Bill Kurrie asked the project director, “Bill” about that. Maybe Bill was one of the people Kurrie introduced a few minutes before, during his lengthy objections to the other proposed Moody housing item, REZ-2013-08, since withdrawn. Bill said basically he didn’t really know, but “the great majority are local contractors on a number of our other building projects”.

Celine F. Gladwin New Commissioner Celine F. Gladwin wanted to know whether Phase II was part of what was being proposed. Kurrie said no, and illustrated with a laser pointer. Also military buffering requirements were much greater than local. Commissioner (and architect) Gladwin also wanted to know whether all the streets were the same. Kurrie referred her to the site plan:

Laser pointer on property Kurrie said “when this is approved… then the county and the developer will actually completely finalize the plan”. That’s interesting. The county is supposed to approve a non-finalized plan? He also noted they were curved, not straight, streets, and there are to be two exits onto Val Del.

Celine Gladwin motioning Commissioner Gladwin said that didn’t actually answer her question, which had to do with planning for when both phases were built out:

When I look at that I want so see some sort of hierarchy for a planned development.

She seemed to be asking about things like the Neighborhood Activity Center the Comprehensive Plan recommends, and she mentioned some potential incongruity between the suburban nature of the development and its rural setting. She even mentioned the developers could have gone for one of the R for Residential zoning categories instead of PD for Planned Development.

Kurrie said it wasn’t high density; there’s a lot of green space, and “those development standards in our opinion are met”. Sure, let’s let the developers decide when the standards are met. He did address different zoning, saying with R-1 they could have put a lot more houses there. Commissioner Gladwin was not impressed.

Kurrie said the PD was so they didn’t have to subdivide the lots, and he said the PD zoning provided “the comfort that what you’re looking at is what the military wants”. Remember, it’s not even really Moody AFB that wants this development: apparently it’s the Air Force.

Commissioner Ted Raker said the community center and such were the add-ons that justified the PD. Kurrie said that was correct, plus the roads and the 911 addresses, even though it was all one lot. He noted there was no requirement for commercial or retail.

Chairman Johnny Ball called for other speakers in favor, and got Tim Coombs from Hahira, who said as a business owner he recalled when the previous Moody housing project fell apart, and most of the houses were not completed. He said to him it would be Moody personnel would fill up these new houses, and he hoped GLPC would encourage use of local subcontractors, since it wasn’t their fault the previous project fell apart.

Gretchen Quarterman Chairman Johnny Ball then asked for speakers against. Gretchen Quarterman expressed concerns about commuters zooming down Hambrick Road to the base already,

I’m wondering how people will get from this housing to the base.
Plus Nelson Hill, a bit up Val Del Road, was supposed to be condominiums and a gated community,

…and if you go out to Nelson Hill now you don’t find anything resembling a gated condominium community; you find ticky-tacky houses where they cut down the swamp.

Gretchen about BRAC and Nelson Hill And I’m really concerned, if there’s a BRAC, and something were to happen, and Moody wouldn’t be growing, it either would be staying the same size or declining, that this PD would be turning into some PD like Nelson Hill…. I’m not sure how Nelson Hill got to what was approved in 2006 to what it is today, but it doesn’t at all resemble the zoning that it was given….

So those are my concerns: traffic, Nelson Hill, and the potential impact on this of a BRAC.

Nobody else wanted to speak against, so the Chairman closed the public participation part.

Here’s Part 1 of 2:

No mold or unpaid contractors this time for Moody Housing Part 1 of 2:
Regular Session, Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 29 July 2013.

Tommy Willis Commissioner Tommy Willis wanted to know about that traffic concern. County Planner Jason Davenport said “neither the Engineer nor the preliminary reports indicated” there would be any traffic problems, but a traffic study would be good. Remember, he didn’t recommend it be a condition:

b) Additionally, although not a proposed condition, it should be noted on this request that a future traffic study will be required. Acceleration lanes/Deceleration lanes and/or a dedicated left turn lane may be required.

Willis seemed to buy that, and he didn’t suggest it be made a condition, either.

Chip Wildes No other Commissioners had any more questions. Commissioner Chip Wildes moved to approve the request (with no conditions). GLPC voted to approve 5 to 2 with Commissioners Bailey and Gladwin in opposition.

GLPC Voting

Here’s Part 2 of 2:

No mold or unpaid contractors this time for Moody Housing Part 2 of 2:
Regular Session, Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 29 July 2013.