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Commissioner Myers and a tale of two neighborhoods

The Knottingham neighborhood

By Mara Zuñiga

Commissioner and incumbent Carol Myers voted YES to upset a predominantly black neighborhood and NO to upset a predominantly white neighborhood, where she happens to live in the area.

“A controversial “cottage courtyard” project off Oglethorpe Avenue near the Knottigham neighborhood suggests efforts to increase density will meet stiff resistance. About two dozen residents came to the commission meeting to oppose the development, which will consist of 24 units-small cottages, duplexes and fourplexes-on a little under two acres”(1.85acres to be exact). “They cited concerns about density, traffic, parking and gentrification. The project’s developers, though, said it will fill a niche by providing smaller dwellings in the $200,000-$300,000 range that homebuyers say they want but can’t find…. They asked for a rezoning and more than two dozen waivers…” Commissioner Tim Denson said “The only way we can get out of this housing crisis is by building housing”. “He was joined by commissioners Jesse Houle, Mariah Parker, Melissa Link, Russell Edwards and Carol Myers in supporting the request, which passed 6-4”. Thornton, Hamby, Davenport and Wright voted against it. Commissioner Davenport said, “the commission should listen to the residents”. Thornton said, “Don’t put the solution on these people’s back”. (Flagpole article by Blake Aued, 6/25/2022).

The excerpt above was from an article written based on a Mayor and Commissioner session on 6/7/2022 (Item #27) where all of the speakers against the development were older black ladies and longtime residents of the neighborhood. One of them brought a petition with 100 signatures. Another resident could not understand if this was such a good idea why it needed “so many waivers?” Three speakers were for it: the owner, the developer and Sarah Ghering, not a resident of Knottingham, who wanted everyone to vote yes based on a friend she had and their personal experience with housing. Commissioner Thornton inferred that on one hand Linnentown was being remembered and honored while on the other hand another Linnentown was being created.

Fast forward to this year:

"Dozens of east side residents turned out at Tuesday’s Mayor and Commission agenda-setting session, most in opposition to a proposed development near the Green Acres neighborhood (some were in favor vs in Knottingham 100% of the speakers, residents of the neighborhood, were against it) … The developer of the site proposes building 28 townhomes on the parcel… Several commissioners seemed to oppose the plan, citing the outpouring of neighborhood concerns. Carol Myers represents the area. Jesse Houle, who represents District 6, says they are undecided. (WUGA article by Martin Matheny, 3/20/2024)

The excerpt above was from an article based on a mayor and commissioner session on 3/19/2024 (Item#14) where some speakers were for and some against the development citing pretty much the same arguments as the folk from Knottingham. Most of the folk against the development were seemingly white middle class. One resident stated that they had 80 residents who had let Commissioner Carol Myers know they were against it (vs the 100 people who were against it via a petition presented to Carol Myers and the other commissioners at the Knottingham vote). This project was for 28 units on 5 acres, while Knottingham was 24 units on 1.85 acres.

Later, Commissioner Carol Myers, who lives in the district, voted against the proposed project which was unanimously approved by the planning department. Why? Possibly because of a - not in my backyard mentality?

“A controversial development near the Green Acres development will not be built……. the proposed project would have built 28 townhomes on a parcel…..The project’s developers requested that the item be removed from the commission’s agenda on Tuesday. Commissioners instead made the rare decision to hold a vote on the matter”. Myers said. "I owe it to the residents here to simply deny this proposal ….”That was a move supported by District 6 Commissioner Jesse Houle…. Commissioners voted 7-1 to deny the necessary rezoning for the project, effectively killing the measure.”(WUGA, Martin Matheny, 4/3/2024)

“…. In the need for additional housing choices, this [is] an appropriate location,” Brad Griffin, planning director of the ACCGov planning department, said. “This project creates diversity of housing,” Blake Underwood, developer of the project with Athens Real Estate Group, said. “We are in the midst of a housing crisis and have an opportunity to make an impact.” …. “Problems residents have with the proposal include the denseness this complex would bring alongside their neighborhood with overpopulation, overcrowding, too many cars, too much traffic, safety concerns…….” (Red & Black,Lizzy Rice, 3/21/24)

Commissioner Carol Myers was quoted, “I’ve heard the Green Acres neighbors very clearly this evening that they do not find this project compatible. They’ve discussed storm water, traffic, spot zoning and more,” she stated during last month’s meeting. (WUGA, Emma Auer, 4/2/24)

So why were the concerns of the mostly white middle-class residents of the Green Acres Neighborhood, Carol Myers neighbors, listened to and agreed with while the mostly minority residents of the Knottingham neighborhood were not? The Green Acres project had 80 residents against it, Knottingham 100.  The Green Acres project was for 28 units on 5 acres, the Knottingham project was 24 units on 1.85 acres. Both cited traffic concerns, over density, etc

We must begin to look at our commissioners’ voting records when it’s time for reelection. An email is circulating from Commissioner Jesse Houle to try and interfere with elections by using his influence as commissioner to fear monger members of the democrat party by using defamation, misinformation and accusations without proof to sway folks from voting for some candidates and not others. Is this what the community wants? Jesse Houle also voted for the Knottingham project and against his friend, Carol Myers’, backyard project in Green Acres.

One wonders where is the “equity” so often touted by progressive commissioners when it comes to dealing with these two neighborhoods.

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10 Comments


the use of the repetitive 'trust me, this is like this' by an opposing candidate, hoping no one will dig deeper to find the actual facts, suggests the author has nothing but insinuation to support a baseless attack. You may as well argue, "They both happened on a Thursday - therefore they are the same." When in fact, they have little in common. Zuniga does a disservice to the community with this approach to seeking power in the county.

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Way to go, Joe, in turning Classic City News into a propaganda organ for the local mega Republicans.

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If you would like to express a point of view I will gladly publish it

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Excellent overview Mara ..”nothing spoils a good story like the arrival of an eye witness” said Mark Twain ..& the public record of Meyer’s votes is just that

John Gurley

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There are Commissioners that will NOT listen to their constituents. They must go

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If that’s all she has, then I’ll continue to vote for democrats over people like Zuniga that want to punish poor people.

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Some commissioners didn't learn from Linentown, did they?

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lol. I’m sure you care about Linnentown and reparations for their families.

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