Marshview residents raise concerns about apartment complex development

Jan. 25—Residents of Marshview Condos say construction work on an apartment complex on U.S. 17 will have negative consequences on their homes, but city officials don't see it that way.

The Brunswick City Commission approved in October an annexation and rezoning request for the property at 3302 and 3210 Glynn Ave., which will pave the way for a new housing and commercial complex. The project is currently in the concept phase.

A concept plan showed 216 apartment units in nine three-story buildings, 62 townhomes and 24,000 square feet of commercial retail space in three buildings, along with associated infrastructure. City officials will review more detailed plans at public meetings as they are developed.

Mary McFadden, Rhonda DeCrescenzo, Helen Stapleton and Les Klinefelter are glad to see the old Golden Isles Inn and the adjacent trailer park go away, but they fear the construction will impact drainage and worry the developer will eventually clear-cut the lot, taking down several large live oaks.

A ditch that runs through a stand of trees along the former hotel's property line with the condo complex conveys water to the south, McFadden said. From there, it used to connect to another ditch that runs east into the marsh.

She claims the developer filled in part of the ditch running south for easier access by construction crews, but John Hunter, director of the city's Building, Development and Codes Division, says there's not much to the claim.

"There's no way" that ditch is a consequential drainage feature, he said.

"It's what I would assume is an incidental ditch created at the property line to facilitate drainage at some point, but I don't see it having any impact on Marshview," Hunter said.

The developer — Maritime Homes LLC, owned by Vassa Cate — would effectively be shooting itself in the foot, he said. If that ditch were important, it would also worsen drainage on the future site of the apartment complex.

Stapleton also said dust from the construction exacerbated respiratory issues she's lived with for years due to a lack of dust control measures. Her neighbors backed her up, but Hunter disagreed. City code enforcement officials have responded to complaints and seen no violations of dust control measures, he said.

"I don't even think they know we're here," Stapleton told The News.

As for the trees, Hunter said it's entirely possible that some mature live oaks, willow oaks or hackberry — the three trees of consequence to the city's tree canopy preservation efforts — could come down.

"I anticipate it happening. A development of this size and this type, it's just likely that there will be some tree loss," Hunter said.

The Glynn Avenue Design Framework, an additional layer of development restrictions applying to the U.S. 17 corridor in the city, has requirements on tree cutting that other parts of the city don't. It does not, as a general rule, outlaw cutting down trees.

"If we determine there's no viable alternative, they have a tree schedule that's basically two for one," Hunter said.

Live oaks, willow oaks and hackberry trees over 24 inches in diameter are considered "specimen trees," but they can still come down if a developer replaces them with two or more trees of a similar-sized canopy.

By law, Maritime Homes must submit a tree survey for approval by the city, Hunter said, before any such trees can be cut down. The condo owners know this, they say, but worry the company, or Cate specifically, will not adhere to it.

Along with the tree survey, the developer will also have to submit its site plan for approval at three stages by both the Planning and Appeals Commission and the Brunswick City Commission — once at 50% completion, again at 90% and final approval once the site plan is finished.

Hunter said he recognizes this is a major project and could have consequences for the whole city, not just Marshview Condos. This gives the public in general, including the condo owners, a chance to be involved in the process.

"As complex of a development this is, I recommended that because I felt like it was warranted, that there's enough moving parts that having review of it in the public realm is an important thing to have," Hunter said.

He does not have a timeline for when the development will next appear in the public arena.