Plans unveiled for new condos at Holiday Island

Monday, October 30, 2006

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Holiday Island developer Tom Dees stood his ground at the Board of Commissioners (BOC) monthly business meeting Oct. 23 when several property owners questioned his decision to build condominiums on the island proper. Some of them will be built across the street from his own house.

Dees spoke to the commission and answered questions by way of asking for its approval to establish two new units: Unit 125 at Lakeside and Shields drives and Unit 126 at Shields and Appaloosa drives.

He said both units will be developed with condominiums, stating that Unit 125 will have 18 units which will be platted into separate lots.

He gave a history of the original planning of Holiday Island by its former developer, McCullogh Corporation, and said McCullogh had originally planned to build 1,100 townhouses.

"I got that townhouse plan killed with McCullogh," Dees said. "You talk about 'high density.' We've built 80 townhouses, not 1,100. If I hadn't stopped this in 1981. . . ."

Making it clear the BOC has no authority over his development decisions, he quickly asserted, "The developer has the right to do what they want with raw land. I'm here as a courtesy." He said he has always been open about what he wants to do.

Lakeside Drive resident Bill Woodward gave a letter to the BOC protesting the plan on several fronts: changing the character of the neighborhood from single-family homes, creating density traffic problems, pressure on infrastructure and the problems inherent in "spot zoning."

He suggested Dees develop Parcel G, also in the area, instead, which would not impact single-family neighborhoods.

Dees said the area he will be developing "needs some multi-family housing."

"We have a lot of single-family houses that are not selling because there's a demand for multi-family."

He said one reason to develop is to keep local tradespeople in work.

"You have to keep them in business, or they won't stay here. You have to look at more than just this little finger. There's going to be something there where I live whether you like it or don't. That's just the way it is."

Deer Run Drive resident Herb Holmberg asked about the impact to the water and sewer system and whether Dees would contribute funds for the extra burden.

"We'll have to pay for it," he said, speaking of all the existing property owners.

Dees said that shouldn't be a concern because by the time all the future 100 to 200 townhouses are built in various areas of Holiday Island, he and the current residents won't be here.

He said he will not contribute funds to develop water and sewer lines to handle the extra demand and added the new units "won't significantly impact water and sewer during our lifetime."

Dees reminded people of all he has done for Holiday Island, including building a shopping center at his own expense so that people didn't have to drive 20 miles to buy groceries.

He expressed frustration with those who think a developer should spend millions purchasing raw land out of altruistic motives.

"Can you imagine anyone buying 4,000 acres and turning it over to the first 50 or 100 people who come here and have no more people coming here? No developer will do that."

He accused the "not in my backyard" residents of being perfectly happy for condominiums to be built somewhere else in Holiday Island.

Board Commissioner Fred Pierson, who lives on Shields Spur, expressed concern about the condos changing the nature of the neighborhood.

"I drive down Shields Drive and see the backs of (the new Oak Point Drive) apartments. If decks are being built, you'll almost drive under them. It will look nice from Oak Point Drive, but the back will not."

Dees said he will write covenants for the new units but wouldn't specify how restrictive they would be.

"If you write them so strict, they won't sell. You have to remember you're in Carroll County. This is a high-end blue collar market. This is not Palm Springs. You try to find a happy medium.

"Who will be the biggest complainer? The man or woman who lives across the street from it -- me."

After Dees left, the BOC took a break and came back to acknowledge they have no power to stop the developer from doing what he wants. They unanimously approved the proposal for two new units.

"The only way you're going to have any authority is to incorporate," Chairman Ken Mills said to the audience. "And that's up to you people."

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