Absentee developer denied
By Patrick Yost
Everybody is looking for developer Greg Staffins.
At Monday’s regular Buckhead City Council meeting, Buckhead resident W.A. Robinson requested that the council table a conditional use request Staffins had requested to allow the construction of a community clubhouse until Staffins, or a representative of Staffins, appears to answer questions.
Morgan County Senior Planner Allison Moon said a phone number for Staffins listed on the request has been disconnected. Also, Staffins has not responded to a stop–work order on the Buckhead Station development, located off Oconee Road, where the requested clubhouse was to be built. That order has been in place for nearly a month, Moon said.
“It’s very rare in our office that we put a stop–work order on a project and they aren’t in our office in 30 minutes, let alone three weeks.”
And in the wings, Monday, Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley waited. Markley was present, he said to serve Staffins with a Gwinnett County lawsuit, on the outside chance that the developer showed.
The suit wasn’t served. Staffins’ request was denied.
Last month the Morgan County Planning Commission unanimously denied Staffins request, citing, among other reasons, that constructing a clubhouse or any other amenity in a proposed development before houses were constructed could eventually put an undue financial burden on homeowners if the development doesn’t hit its projected numbers. Moon said on Staffins preliminary plat, he was proposing approximately 40 building lots on 50 acres, all within the city limits of Buckhead.
Planning Commission member and Buckhead resident John McCarthy said Monday that roads cut into the development are barely passable. “Unless you have a four–wheel drive you can’t get back in there,”
Robinson has contended for months that the development has disrupted natural springs in the area, specifically on property that is contiguous with his private land.
Staffins registered engineering firm last month contacted Moon and informed her that it was no longer employed on the project.
Staffins, nor a representative was present at the planning commission meeting, either.
Monday’s unanimous denial by the Buckhead City Council effectively puts a hold, for at least a year, on the community clubhouse project. However, some residents expressed fears that Staffins apparent disappearance was a calculated move by the developer to skirt county zoning regulations if another entity picks up the project.
Moon assured the council that any further work on the project would have to be addressed through the county’s building and zoning office and therefore would be subject to public disclosure, public hearing and public advertising. Robinson was not appeased.
He accused Moon of acting as a defacto representative of Staffins at the meeting and, in a short, terse exchange, accused the planner of defending Staffins during a meeting at Moon’s office.
“This is somebody who is doing a shell game,” Robinson said. “You’re the person that told me he was a nice man.”
“I don’t recall that conversation,” Moon said.
Robinson said he had taped the conversation. “I’d love to hear that,” said Moon.
“You probably will, eventually,” Robinson said.
In other Buckhead city council news, Buckhead City Council Member and Buckhead Volunteer Fire Chief Gene Porter announced that he was resigning as the department’s fire chief. Porter said he was resigning for “personal” reasons and that Chuck Jarrell had agreed to act as the department’s fire chief until elections can be held.