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Land use: Neighbors object to duplexes at The Reserve

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Homeowners in The Reserve, a gated community within Willbrook Plantation, told members of the Georgetown County Planning Commission last week that a proposal to build duplexes near the golf course clubhouse will devalue their property.

Citing unanimous approval by The Reserve board of directors, planners recommended Georgetown County Council amend the Willbrook “planned development” to allow Reserve Villas LLC to build the units on two tracts just inside the community’s security gate.

Original plans for the property in 1997 called for multi-family housing but were amended in 1999 for single-family cottage homes. A 2004 plan shows that 12 single-family homes were built on a portion of one tract and 36 on the other, leaving 5.7 acres undeveloped in one tract and 2 acres in the other. David Gantt of G3 Engineering told planners the owners propose 12 buildings similar in appearance to the community’s Harbor Club Villas, cutting the number of possible dwelling units in half, from 48 to 24. Based on the reduction in density and the setbacks required in The Reserve, the county planning staff recommended approval of the change to the “planned development.”

Gantt said G3 Engineering met with The Reserve board, its architectural review board and golf course officials and had letters of support. He promised a quality development coordinated by the Litchfield Co. “They have been there long term,” Gantt said, “and are trying to finish on a high note. We intend this to be a very esthetically pleasing development.”

Reserve resident Roberta Purcell said the duplexes would create a negative first impression of the community and dramatically affect resale prices of single-family houses. “I find it difficult to believe that any predominately single-family community would want multi-family at its entrance,” she said. “I would love this tract of land to remain open.” She offered a compromise that would leave one parcel as single-family cottage homes.

Resident Ralph Spadaccini, a former mortgage banker and financial consultant, said he was uniquely qualified to ascertain the negative impact of the proposal on the multi-million dollar houses in The Reserve. He called the duplexes a total contrast from what the original developer proposed.

“I’m going to see barbecuing, dogs, cats, anything in their backyards,” he said.

Resident Robert Maresca said he was surprised that more Reserve residents weren’t at the Planning Commission meeting to protest. He said developers were making a last grab at profit at the expense of the homeowners. “They want the pie and the plate,” he said.

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