Company Behind Controversial Proposed Development Testing Soil - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/12/06

Company Behind Controversial Proposed Development Testing Soil

The company is digging pits to test the soil. The company is digging pits to test the soil.
 

Savannah City Council is set to vote on a proposed low-income housing development. Residents say they don't want it in their neighborhood. And and to make their point, dozens showed up at a meeting last night with city leaders and planners.

Residents say they're concerned their property values will drop. They also tell us they are worried crime in their area will increase.

The vote tomorrow is only the beginning of a lengthy process to build on the land and develop the complex. What would be called Mossy Branch Apartments would be situated on about three acres of land north of Eisenhower Drive and West of Skidaway Way.

WTOC met up with a vice president of the company trying to build the housing complex. It doesn't seem like the controversy is keeping the company from moving forward.

They say they're not doing construction, but they are surveying the land, looking at where the buildings might go and how much soil will have to be hauled out and replaced, in order to build safe buildings that will last at least 30 years.

Workers from the Paces Foundation started digging pits, testing the soils and looking for anything that may be hazardous.

"It's well known at this point that there's some bad soil here," said the company's Jon Toppen. "It use to be a pond, then it was filled in. As part of what we do to investigate this site, we're going around and looking to see exactly how deep the bad soil is, where it is and just seeing what's in the soil."

Toppen says they've found some construction debris, but nothing they didn't expect, and have found no environmental hazards. They tell WTOC that they don't believe this land is in too bad of shape to build on.

"We wouldn't have come this far if we didn't think we could. Obviously there's a lot more research to go. The test pits we're doing right now is just the beginning."

The developers are in the process of applying for tax credits, which won't be approved until September. After that, they will still have to run more tests before beginning to build.

Toppen says he does respect the neighbors and understands where they are coming from, but the area has been zoned for multifamily use and eventually it will be built on.

Reported by: Christy Hutchings, chutchings@wtoc.com

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