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Landlord questions council zoning decision

Editor:
    The City Council made a decision about zoning three properties on the corner of Herty and Fair Road, as is their right. I understand the concerns of the area residents, though I don’t agree with their reasoning. There are many examples of businesses placed near or on the edge of residential neighborhoods with no negative effects on the neighborhoods.  However, I accept the decision of the council without anger.
    I do have concerns about the publicity and reasoning that were published by the Herald  and brought up in council discussion.
    The owners of the property were called “absentee landlords,” implying that the properties were bought as an investment, indicating something nefarious. Any landlord not living on the premises is “absentee.” This absentee landlord is 79 years old and lived in the Catherine Avenue house for 35 of those years. I think it is obvious that I did not desire to sell it for commercial use when I bought it. The first 30 years were quite wonderful, but the last five were quite difficult. People were parking in my yard for many college activities. My yard became a shortcut to the campus, and anything left in the yard and growing at the edge of the property were subject to misappropriation. My neuropathy became enough of a problem that, after my children moved away for college, graduate school, military service and marriage, I was having difficulty maintaining the property.  Finally, I decided to try to sell the property, but as family housing, it seemed unmarketable. After finding another house, I rented the place to students and became an “absentee landlord.”
    One of the “absentee landlords,” identified as a corporation, is not a landlord.
It is the Salvation Army. Before buying the location, they polled the entire neighborhood for any opposition to their building a Salvation Army facility. Finding little opposition, even when they held a public meeting to get response, they bought the property. When a “zoning” meeting was held, THEN, the objectors from the neighborhood showed up, the zoning was disapproved, and for 16 years they have been stuck with an unusable and unmarketable piece of land.
    At this time, the procrastination of the City Council’s postponing their decision till after the “renting period” had expired seems almost deliberate. Judging from the cheering by the members of the council and their unanimous vote, it was a decision that appeared to have been made at the first meeting, or before, and it was postponed for no reason except public relations. As a result, I have missed the period wherein student renters are available (Aug. 1) so that the robust rental market mentioned in the resolution printed in the Herald and part of the negative resolution passed by the council no longer exists, at least for me and Dr. Hood.
    I am pretty sure that the current council recognizes the inevitability of this area becoming commercial; it is as inevitable as death and taxes.
    As for me, I am very concerned about getting  my property rented because, if I can’t, I may end up losing it to a foreclosure.
    Thank you for your time.
Richard B. Johnson
Statesboro

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