Marsh Landings to expand? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Marsh Landings to expand?

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June 25, 2007

Albany - The owner of one of Albany's premiere apartment complexes hopes to expand, but there's a problem-- the area of expansion is within the floodway and zoning ordinances don't allow multi-family units to be developed there.  

Every apartment, a waterfront view. Maybe that's what has attracted so many people to Marsh Landings Apartments on Philema Road. 

"Marsh Landings has been an extremely positive development for Dougherty County," said Pace Burt. "It's been extremely popular." So popular, there's a need to expand.  "We've got three buildings, we're going to build a total of 60 more units." 

But here's the problem: The area where owner Pace Burt wants to build those units is in a floodway, which is the channel where the river travels when flooded. "There's just an ordinance that's a little vague and they need to do some clarification on it to allow multi family, instead of just single family in this particular floodway."

The three buildings already here at Marsh Landings are in the floodplain, but not the floodway. Commissioners now want to hear what FEMA has to say about new buildings to make sure no one's put in harm's way.   

"The bottom line is that if FEMA has an issue that can literally cause someone danger, they will come and let us know that. We want to make sure that we do get the proper authorities at FEMA to let us know that our folks will not be in harm's way," said County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard.

But Burt says if granted the permit, he'll still be required to follow strict guidelines, specifically about building elevation, so people will be safe. He said, "We're following all state and federal and local guidelines in terms of development of this property."

Though he obviously can't prevent another flood. "Living on the water you have to expect every now and then that you would have flooding issues," said Burt.

But Sinyard says citizens should also expect to live in a home that won't wash them away. "We're real excited about the potential for the growth, of course harm's way issue has to be resolved first," said Sinyard.

The commission plans to get a recommendation from GEMA and FEMA before considering ordinance changes.

Right now the ordinance allows single family dwellings or manufactured homes on a lot that was established before the ordinance went into effect around 1978, and then it would have to be built three feet above basic flood elevation, so in order for the apartment units to be built, the current ordinance would have to be amended.

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