Tak­ing charge

Fairview Es­tates res­i­dents to fi­nally con­trol HOA

The Covington News - - Front page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­news.com

The res­i­dents of Fairview Es­tates aren’t will­ing to wait any longer; they want con­trol of their home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion as soon as pos­si­ble.

A group of around 40 neigh­bor­hood res­i­dents told county of­fi­cials Thurs­day that they don’t want any part of the ex­pan­sive, long-term neigh­bor­hood re­vi­tal­iza­tion plan, pre­sented ear­lier this month by the non­profit com­mu­nity devel­op­ment group IECDG.

In­stead, they de­cided at Thurs­day’s meet­ing to hold a com­mu­nity meet­ing March 21 to fi­nally form a home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion and elect a board of di­rec­tors to over­see the fu­ture devel­op­ment of the neigh­bor­hood.

Be­cause the fourth and fi­nal phase of Fairview Es­tates was never com­pleted, an as­so­ci­a­tion was never formed, and the res­i­dents have been left in a state of limbo since the de­vel­oper went bank­rupt in 2008.

Fairview Es­tates, lo­cat- ed off Fairview Road, has been in the news since May 2009, when Newton County an­nounced plans to build an 18-acre pub­lic park in the neigh­bor­hood, as part of the fed­er­ally funded Neigh­bor­hood Sta­bi­liza­tion Pro­gram.

Be­cause county gov­ern­ments are limited in how

they can han­dle land trans­ac­tions, the pro­gram re­quired the county to work with a non-profit part­ner. Newton County se­lected Cony­ers based IECDG to over­see the con­struc­tion of the park and pur­chase, re­ha­bil­i­tate and re­sell se­lect fore­closed homes.

In Septem­ber 2009, some res­i­dents expressed op­po­si­tion to a pub­lic park be­ing placed in their neigh­bor­hood, be­cause of con­cerns of in­creased crime and traf­fic. Ever since that time the county, IECDG and res­i­dents have de­bated the ben­e­fits of the sta­bi­liza­tion pro­gram, with dozens of meet­ings tak­ing place dur­ing the past 1.5 years.

Dur­ing the next sev­eral months, more and more of the com­mu­nity be­gan to sup­port the park. While some were truly con­vinced that the park would raise prop­erty val­ues, oth­ers were only concerned by IECDG’s prom­ise to help es­tab­lish a res­i­dent-run home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion.

As time moved on, IECDG’s goals in the com­mu­nity be­came more am­bi­tious. The com­mu­nity had been plagued by fore­clo­sures and plum­met­ing val­ues, but IECDG CEO James Hel­lams Jr. wanted to ad­dress the un­der­ly­ing causes. His com­pany be­gan part­ner­ing with the fed­eral govern­ment and other agen­cies to de­velop fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy and home­own­er­ship cour­ses.

With no vis­i­ble progress be­ing made to­ward form­ing a home­owner as­so­ci­a­tion by Septem­ber 2010, many of those who had sup­ported IECDG be­cause of that prom­ise lost faith in the com­pany.

When IECDG un­veiled its 18-page re­vi­tal­iza­tion plan ear­lier this month, it called for IECDG to re­main in con­trol of the home­owner as­so­ci­a­tion, to build an ameni­ties pack­age and to build a “Skills Academy,” which would fo­cus on fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy and home­own­er­ship pre­pared­ness.

The res­i­dents wanted the ameni­ties, but they didn’t want any other build­ings and they didn’t want IECDG to re­main in charge. On March 21, they’ll have a chance to change that.

“We don’t have any prob­lem with them; they can do what­ever they want to do. We said you have two op­tions: we can sup­port you or you can go for­ward on your own,” Hel­lams said Fri­day, af­ter be­ing told about the out­come of the meet­ing.

IECDG still owns 27 va­cant lots in the county, and Hel­lams said his com­pany will build houses on those lots dur­ing the next few years and sell those. Those lots also give IECDG 27 votes to use at any home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion meet­ings, and Hel­lams said the com­pany will con­tinue to work with the neigh­bor­hood to help it de­velop.

“We’re not go­ing to aban­don the com­mu­nity. The com­mu­nity is aban­don­ing the com­pre­hen­sive plan, but our goals is still to do work with the (Neigh­bor­hood Sta­bi­liza­tion Pro­gram) and work to de­velop homes,” he said.

He said his goal had been to in­fuse around $12 mil­lion into the com­mu­nity, by work­ing with other pri­vate com­pa­nies and ap­ply­ing for fed­eral grants. IECDG will still work to de­velop their ideas in other coun­ties and states, Hel­lams said.

District 3 Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz, who led the meet­ing Thurs­day, said the county will meet with IECDG Tues­day to in­form the com­pany of the res­i­dents de­ci­sion and to plan how to move for­ward.

For the res­i­dents of Fairview Es­tates, all they want is a chance to con­trol their own destiny.

“Do we know whether we’re go­ing to be able to take on this task? No. Is it scary? Yes. Will we have some bumps in the road? Yes,” said Rev. Sharon Collins, one res­i­dent who has stepped up as a com­mu­nity leader. “Any change is scary, but change is the only con­stant in life, so we have to move for­ward.”

Gabriel Khouli/The Cov­ing­ton News

New Be­gin­nings: Jose An­ge­los preps a field in the Fairview Es­tates sub­di­vi­sion to re­ceive grass seed. By the time the grass has grown, the neigh­bor­hood’s res­i­dents should fi­nally have gained con­trol of their home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion. Both that bat­tle and the Fairview Com­mu­nity Park have been more than 1.5 years in the mak­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.