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Archives for November 2015

Covent Garden at TwinEagles generating sales



The Ronto Group reported that with 13 new construction sales since Jan. 1 of this year, the Covent Garden neighborhood by Pulte Homes continues to be one of TwinEagles most popular product choices. Thirty-six residences remain available within the neighborhood. With a full golf membership included with the purchase of every residence within the community, two championship golf courses, an array of world class amenities, and a natural setting, Covent Garden offers an ideal pied-à-terre for those intent on enjoying a classic country club lifestyle.

Covent Garden’s carriage homes measure 1,654 and 2,297 square feet under air and are priced from the mid-$200s to the high-$300s. Each floor plan offers a comfortable ambiance for enjoying a maintenance-free, lock and leave living experience. In addition to the amenities found throughout the TwinEagles community, Covent Garden residents enjoy a private swimming pool and outdoor dining area that is designed for hosting neighborhood gatherings and special events.

The second-floor Tourmaline floor plan offers 2,297 under air, a 230-square-foot covered lanai and a two-car garage. Base priced at $309,990, the Tourmaline floor plan offers a ground level entry and two-story stairwell, a great room that opens to the covered lanai, a formal dining room, a gourmet kitchen, a breakfast nook that also opens to the lanai, three bedrooms, plus a den or fourth bedroom, and two-and-a-half baths. The owner’s suite bedroom can include an optional tray ceiling and an optional door opening to the covered lanai. His-and-her walk-in closets are included in the owner’s suite.

Covent Garden’s first-floor Cheshire floor plan has 1,654 square feet under air, a 230-square-foot covered lanai and a two-car garage. The plan’s great room opens to the covered lanai and flows into a gourmet kitchen and dining area that also opens to the lanai. The master suite includes a walk-in closet and a bath. The plan includes a guest bedroom, plus a den or third bedroom, and a second full bath. The Cheshire floor plan in Covent Garden is base priced at $256,990.

Covent Garden homebuyers continue to be attracted to TwinEagles’ array of amenities that includes two championship golf courses. Set against a backdrop of the community’s towering oaks, palm trees and landscaping, the Talon Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son and is regarded as the top residential course in Southwest Florida. The Talon Course will host the ACE Group Classic PGA Champions Tour event for the 10th time in February 2016.

The Talon Course is one of two distinctly different golf courses at TwinEagles. The community’s Eagle Course was named “Best New U.S. Private Course of the Year” by Golf Magazine. Designed by Steve Smyers, the course has a challenging historical design with modern yardages.

TwinEagles is also the home of “Doc” Jim Suttie’s Golf Academy. Using sophisticated monitoring and training equipment, Doc Suttie and the Golf Academy staff can help golfers take their game to a new level.

The golf courses provide a tableau for peaceful neighborhoods tucked along fairways and lakes that offers vistas and a sense of privacy. A 47,000-square-foot clubhouse pays homage to St. Andrews where the game of golf was born. In addition to a golf pro shop, the clubhouse features wraparound verandas that overlook preserve views and the finishing holes of both courses. The clubhouse also offers one of the finest dining experiences in Southwest Florida with Executive Chef Chas Tatigian.

The clubhouse is complemented by a new community swimming pool and fitness center. This amenity center includes a pool with a large spa, a zero-entry feature, and a sunning deck overlooking a lake. An outdoor lounge, dining venue, and lighted Har-Tru tennis courts are adjacent to the pool. The fitness center was designed to complement the clubhouse architecture. The floor plan includes men’s and women’s locker rooms, areas for aerobics and yoga, and a fitness hall.

In addition to the amenity center, TwinEagles offers dozens of lakes, miles of walking paths that meander through the community, and neighborhood parks and gardens that dot the landscape and provide quiet spots for enjoying the community’s tranquil ambiance.

TwinEagles is being developed by the Ronto Group and offers a selection of luxury residences including carriage homes priced from the mid-$200s to estate and grand estate residences priced into the millions.

The TwinEagles sales center is at 11330 Twin Eagles Blvd. Online at twineagles.com.

Article source: http://www.naplesnews.com/business/real-estate/covent-garden-at-twineagles-continues-to-generate-sales-2537c76b-047c-093f-e053-0100007fea0e-353228731.html

Liberty Lawncare and Gardens in Bellville offers live Fraser fir Christmas …

BELLVILLE, Ohio — When two Bellville brothers came into business mowing lawns as young boys, they didn’t expect to someday own a landscaping and gardening center enterprise, let alone Christmas trees for the holidays.

Liberty Lawncare and Gardens on state Route 13, just south of the city limits, opened up their doors for business during the holiday season two years ago to sell Fraser fir trees and poinsettias.

The trees, according to owner Isaac Freeman range from $30 to $65 and sizes go from a couple feet to 10. The trees are bought from Carpenters Christmas Trees in Knox County, said Freeman.

“The Frasers have thicker needles and stiffer branches. So we mainly have them right now,” Freeman said.

The poinsettias, which range from plain, red to “Jingle Bells” varieties are available for $5 to $20.

Freeman said he decided to keep the business open through the holidays to add one more season to their gardening collection. The storefront also has ornaments, wreaths and holiday trinkets for sale.

“We usually shut down right after fall, usually right around Halloween. So we decided to open back up last year to try the Christmas trees and poinsettias and stuff and it went really well. It helps keep a few more employees busy for another month or so,” said Freeman.

Owner Isaac Freeman shares ownership with his brother Seth. Isaac Freeman said their first customer was the 2.5 acre North Liberty Cemetery. He was 9-years-old and his brother was 11.

“We went to a garage sale, bought two $10 push mowers and started growing since then,” said Isaac Freeman. “It took us eight hours to mow and just about three hours to trim it all.”

“By the time my brother and I both had our licenses (to drive) we were both running our own crew, and just traveling a lot father around. We had about 35 accounts by then and started landscaping and stuff,” said Isaac Freeman.

Isaac Freeman said now the business has 30 employees and they operate a gardening center. Gardening came into the picture when the brothers got married; they’re wives upkeep that part of the business.

“When we bought this place she said ‘I want to start a garden center here,’ and I said, ‘You know that end of it, I don’t know that end of it,’ so that’s kind of her vision,” he said.

He still mows the cemetery, but now it only takes his crew an hour-and-a-half.

Liberty Lawncare and Gardens is open Monday through Friday from 12 to 6 p.m. Saturdays, they open up from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. They are located on 5822 State Route 13 in Bellville.

Article source: http://www.richlandsource.com/life_and_culture/liberty-lawncare-and-gardens-offers-live-christmas-trees-and-poinsettias/article_3c43a010-921a-11e5-a874-ab7132775505.html

How to prepare your garden for winter: 5 tips from Brian Minter

Winter is on its way — parts of the province have experienced frost or snowfall over the past few weeks.

It’s now especially important not to ignore one’s garden, master gardener Brian Minter told B.C. Almanac guest host Michelle Eliot.

Here are Minter’s winter gardening tips:

1. Bring tender plants inside now

“No more dilly dallying around, if you value some of your more tender plants, now is certainly the time to bring them in,” Minter said.

“Stop bragging about those darn geraniums and get them inside … That has to happen, right now.”

2. Mulch

For tender plants, Minter recommends covering their roots with a fir or hemlock bark mulch.

“It’s a wonderful insulator. So anything that’s a little tender, getting that around the roots … makes a difference between life and death. And the nice thing is that come late winter/spring, you can work that back into your soils,” he said.

“The tops can freeze off, but if there’s mulch protecting the bottom part of the plant and the roots, that’s okay, it can make it then.” 

3. Wrap up your plants

Minter said plants such as the hardy banana tree and windmill palm should be wrapped up.

For the hardy banana: “Simply cut the leaves off at this point, but protect the crown. That’s very very important. I would like to see you wrap it with [bubble wrap] if you possibly can, leave a little bit of air in there, and then put a proper product around that’s an insulator, like N-Sulate.”

He said ideally a person would make a tripod of three stakes around the stem, and then add the bubble wrap and insulating material.

For the windmill palm: “When it does get severely cold — beyond minus 6, 7, 8, 9 — wrap them, again gather them up a wee bit [using] a bit of plastic to prevent water from getting in the crown and freezing, and a bit of N-Sulate.”

4. Water your plants

“You need to go and saturate and rehydrate so many of your plants, because we’ll be talking in spring … and people will go, ‘Well my camellia buds are dropping off!’ That happens because you’re not getting enough moisture to them.”

Minter recommends paying special attention to plants under eaves, and those that are on the west or south side of one’s house.

5. Don’t repot until spring

“We’re going through winter, and I would not do any repotting. That goes for indoor plants as well. They’re struggling a bit with the low light and all the conditions inside,” Minter said.

“Wait until we get out of February. In March the plants show signs of life, their roots will come along a lot better and that’s the time to do that.” 

“And remember, when you’re planting trees in containers, use a very open porous soil with lots of very fine bark mixed in. Use a nursery mix, otherwise regular potting soils hold too much moisture and they get in trouble when it stays wet.”


To hear the full interview with Brian Minter, listen to the audio labelled: Master gardener Brian Minter shares 5 tips for winter gardening

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/brian-minter-five-tips-for-winter-gardening-1.3339132

Garden Tips: Avoid hazardous trees – Tri

You probably have heard about the many trees that came down across our state in the wind storm recently, but you may not have heard about a tree in Spokane that snapped off and speared a house. It entered the roof, went through the crib of a 6-week-old baby, and stopped only when it reached the basement floor. Thankfully, the baby was with his mother, who was in the kitchen fixing dinner, and the rest of the family was safe too. This hazardous tree story hit home for me because that baby is my grandson.

I have talked often about not topping trees, but this story emphasizes why it is important to prune properly and to periodically assess large trees for potential hazards.

A tree is considered hazardous when all or part of it could fail and damage a target, such as a building, vehicle or a person. Common failures are the breaking off of a tree limb, a tree splitting a part or a tree uprooting and falling over.

Some reasons for a tree failure include wood decay from past topping; other bad pruning cuts or injuries to the bark and trunk; a lopsided crown; competing central leaders or main branches that are weakly attached at a less than 45 degree angle; the severing within the drip line of more than 50 percent of a tree’s root system; and the development of significant girdling roots at the base of a tree.

The failure of a small tree is usually insignificant, but the failure of a large tree can be catastrophic. When I first moved to this area in 1980, we didn’t have many large mature trees in our home landscapes. Now there are many more. This is good, but it has also increased our potential for hazardous trees.

If you have a larger and older tree, check for any signs of potential failure in shade trees and then consult an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist if there might be a problem.

Signs of potential tree failure:

  • trees that have been topped in the past
  • a tree that is leaning
  • a tree with multiple trunks or with competing leaders
  • trees with lopsided crowns
  • trees with dead or broken branches
  • trees with dead areas of trunk or signs of wood rot

If you have a smaller tree that will grow into a big one, also consider having an arborist check for any corrective pruning that is needed to avoid future problems. It is better and less expensive to take care of these problems when the tree is young.

It is possible that a consultation with an arborist before last week’s extraordinary wind event might have avoided the damage to my family’s home, the deaths of several people and the property of many others, but there is no way to know for sure. Hindsight is always better than foresight.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

Article source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/living/home-garden/marianne-ophardt/article46590845.html

Meet Kevin Bayuk, From Dot-Com To Urban Permaculture Leader

Last month, we asked readers to nominate local people, businesses and organizations that are doing good in their communities to be featured here on Hoodline. This week, we’re running a series based entirely on those reader suggestions. Here’s one such story.


Kevin Bayuk moved here from Southern California  in 1996 to be a part of the dot-com boom. But, he became a leader in the permaculture movement. 

Today, he’s known for the Hayes Valley Farm and numerous other permaculture projects around the city, the Bay Area and the world.  

We sat down with him recently in the Haight, where he’s lived for the past 13 years, to get the details. 

From Tech To Farming

After years of raising capital for software startups, he grew “depressed at the state of the world” and visited a farm in Sonoma County that changed his life. 

It practiced permaculture — a loose set of design principles that rely on patterns and features found in natural ecosystems to help humans grow their own food, build their own living environments, and exist more sustainably.

The permaculture designers he met on the farm changed his thinking. Instead of a world full of problems and crises, he grew to see it as an enormous set of opportunities, and what he thought were big problems—hunger, homelessness, etc.—as problems that were easy to solve, even “embarrassingly simple.” 

Tree collards in a plant community at Commonweal Gardens. Via RDI.

He realized he could change his habits and behaviors to be part of this solution and then help teach other people how to do that as well. 

Deeply moved and inspired, he came back to the city, sold his home and his car, and started learning how to grow food and do the things that he witnessed. 

He learned so much about permaculture that he started teaching with his teachers, and in 2006 produced a permaculture certificate training at the SF Botanical Garden. He also had a hand in founding the Urban Permaculture Institute and the SF Permaculture Guild.   

During those early years he had a big hand in the beginnings of the now-thriving Regenerative Design Institute at Commonweal Gardens in Bolinas. He also did a study of all of the privately-owned vacant lots in the city—who owns them, where are they, if they were productive, and what could happen with them—and published it on his blog. 

The Chronicle picked it up, and the owner of a 5,000 square foot double lot at 18 and Rhode Island in Potrero Hill contacted Bayuk. “Okay, show me what you can do,” he said. 

The 18th and Rhode Island Garden in 2012. Photo via its official Facebook page.

One of Bayuk’s classes came up with a permaculture design, and using waste resources, such as cardboard from the Whole Foods a few blocks away, and wood chips, they transformed it into a perennial polyculture garden, which grows anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of food per year with very low maintenance and very little water. The garden houses over 70 different fruit trees, vegetables, and nuts, and all the food is given away for free and distributed through a few sources primarily in the Mission. 

“It was amazing, because especially today, he could sell that lot, with not a structure on it, for probably two million dollars,” Bayuk says. 

The Hayes Valley Farm

In 2009, Bayuk was able to leverage the success of that farm to work with the Mayor’s Office and the Office of Workforce Development on the former site of the central city on- and off-ramp in Hayes Valley, which had been vacant for years. 

Then-mayor Gavin Newsom also signed a directive on healthy and sustainable food, which Bayuk helped create. The idea was that if San Francisco has vacant land, it should be used to grow food. What resulted from the efforts of Bayuk and other permaculture activists, like Jay Rosenberg, was Hayes Valley Farm.  

The large, central city block full of old freeway segments and dirt became a permaculture blueprint — a large-scale community garden, with organizers hosting people people to learn about food security, food justice, ecology, safe seeds, and climate activism. 

A fava bean retaining wall planted on sheet mulch at the Hayes Valley Farm in 2010. Photo by Chris Martin/Flickr.

Hundreds of school children came through. They grew thousands of pounds of food that was distributed through Project Open Hand. On some weeks throughout the year, there were more than 1,000 participating volunteers. The project, Bayuk says, has been copied around the world. 

Through the Hayes Valley Farm, they were able to continue teaching permaculture courses, and now, they’ve had over 600 people take the permaculture training, some of whom have started projects in Haiti, Philippines, India, and beyond. Over 50% of the people who have taken the training have received scholarships or are doing a work-trade reciprocity, as it’s important that no one is turned away for lack of funds. 

What’s Next

In addition to this work, Bayuk teaches extensively as well as runs a consultancy called LIFT Economy that grows social enterprises. “It helps provide technical support and capital to people who want to start businesses that are good for people and good for the planet but they don’t have a lot of experience in running a company to create a sustainable livelihood around doing something that’s good for people,” Bayuk explains. 

He’s also contributing to a book on climate change about a project called Project Draw Down, which is due out in 2017. 

More than anything, Bayuk likes being an educator. “I enjoy watching people develop an increased sense of ecoliteracy, knowledge about themselves, the world, the source of how they meet their needs,” he says. “Leadership for me is only authentic when it’s from the bottom up. I’m only a leader inasmuch as someone wants to be led,” he says. 

About the role permaculture has in San Francisco, he has a lot to say. “It’s like we’ve institutionalized certain sustainability and green ideas, which is wonderful, and the reputation is somewhat deserved. But the reality on the ground that the economy and tech is still the dominant force that determines land use and cost of living and freedom and liberty.”

Bayuk teaching ecological garden design at leading. Photo by Garden for the Environment/Flickr.

But, he’s clear about one thing: our city is a model for the world. 

“San Francisco has this amazing role to play in the world, on the global stage. When San Francisco does something, it makes it more replicable and adaptive to other places. There’s worldwide potential for change,” he adds. 

“It’s one of the reasons why the role I play is to make models happen in San Francisco—not because it’s actually going to affect that many people here—which is a sobering, even cynical, point of view. Hayes Valley Farm was replaced by market-rate condos. But it happened, and when it did, it got copied in Sao Paulo, and Paris, and all these other places.”

And there are lots of small changes we as San Francisco city dwellers can make to contribute, Bayuk explains. Many of them we know: locally sourced foods, water conservation, etc. But there are social behaviors we can adapt as well, which few people think about as having a comparable impact, such as joining our neighborhood associations (which Bayuk adds have an inordinate amount of influence that is largely untapped), or even, quite simply, getting to know our neighbors. 

“Getting to know people who live near you is really important, for things like neighborhood resilience, disaster preparedness, and even just peace of mind and happiness,” Bayuk says. 

A few years ago, he orchestrated a block party and invited neighbors up and down the block. At that party, two of his neighbors discovered that they had lived across the street from one another, in windows that faced each other, since 1963 and 1964, respectively. But, until that block party, they had never met.

Add that to the list of changes, big and small, that Bayuk is slowly imparting on our city. 


Thanks to Morgan Fitzgibbons for the do-gooder recommendation.

Article source: http://hoodline.com/2015/11/meet-kevin-bayuk-from-dot-com-to-urban-permaculture-leader

New visitor center, sculpture garden among latest upgrades to City Park

For a decade, the old C.T. Parker Building in New Orleans City Park sat derelict and unused after being damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina.

The building had become an eyesore, especially compared with the dramatically improved New Orleans Botanical Garden next door, one of the few remaining examples of Art Deco-style public garden design.

On a recent Tuesday, however, Champagne toasts abounded as park officials celebrated the building’s restoration to its former glory, thanks to a generous donation from the Oscar J. Tolmas Foundation.

“We have transformed it into this magnificent arrival center,” said Susan Hess, president of the park’s board of directors. “And it’s just going to be the most wonderful building.”

When it opens to the public Monday, the Oscar J. Tolmas Center will serve as the main entrance for the park’s Botanical Garden and Storyland. Located in the center of the park, it will also serve as the park’s new focal point, with an information center for visitors, a refreshments booth, public restrooms and gift shops offering garden accessories, plants and novelties.

The new facility is one of many improvements to the park this year, thanks in part to private donations and funding from the Regional Planning Commission and the state’s capital budget.

“Since Katrina, the board has done an amazing job of improvements to the park,” said Lisa Romano, vice president of the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. “This park is not only surviving, it’s thriving.”

Additional capital improvements have been made to the park’s overall infrastructure as well as to individual exhibits and gardens, improving the beauty and the flow of traffic for visitors.

For instance, over the summer a $50,500 federal grant brought new bicycle infrastructure to the park, complete with parking in 15 locations.

The park was also awarded money for a bike path on Marconi Drive. Chief Development Officer John Hopper said the park is waiting on the state to put together a bid package for the project.

In front of the new visitor center, Victory Avenue has been raised and extended, and it has been given colorful plantings, a new sidewalk, new light poles and two new parking lots.

Additionally, a new brick patio has been built around the Peristyle, and red brick is being put in the plaza between the Goldring/Woldenberg Great Lawn and the City Putt miniature golf course.

Combined, the improvements lead up to “a beautiful new entrance” to the Botanical Garden and Storyland, all while visually connecting the entrance to the park’s other amenities, according to City Park CEO Bob Becker.

“It really moves the center of the park down here,” Becker said.

Then there is the new Sir Cumference playground, which opened over the summer at the Festival Grounds between the Christian Brothers School and the Reunion Shelter on Friedrichs Avenue.

The playground sits inside a paved concrete circle, with geometric details that inspired the name. Geared for children ages 5 to 12, it includes climbing areas, monkey bars, a slide, balance beams and musical instruments for kids to play.

Also brand new is the Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden in the Botanical Garden, a tribute to a leading figure in the city’s art community for more than 70 years.

The garden, which is connected by a pathway to the new visitor center, opened Oct. 28.

It features a combination of familiar and rare works by Alférez, who crafted sculptures and architectural eye candy all over New Orleans under the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.

The new sculpture garden features 14 sculptures and casts of works, many of which were purchased by Alférez’s daughter, Tlaloc. They’re located in the former site of the Palm Garden, an 8,000-square-foot space with pergolas and outdoor galleries.

Then there is the most controversial of the new attractions, a $13 million golf course designed by prominent golf course architect Rees Jones that is scheduled to be finished by 2017.

Construction of the 220-acre course started in March, to replace golf courses lost after Hurricane Katrina. It aroused the ire of protesters who said they’d long enjoyed the overgrown spaces of the abandoned courses, but Becker said the course will provide necessary revenue for the park.

Other planned additions include the Louisiana Children’s Museum Early Learning Village, a skate park and a four-acre water park called City Splash, to start construction next year.

The 58,000-square-foot children’s museum is due to open by the end of 2017. It will include a nature center, literacy center, teacher resource center and performing arts center. It will also have outdoor activities, including an edible garden, kitchen, discovery walks and programs exploring the park’s various ecosystems.

“There’s a lot more to come, so you need to be prepared to be delighted in the future,” Botanical Garden Foundation President David Waller said.

Hopper agreed.

“It’s exciting to have this much stuff in the pipeline,” he said.

Article source: http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/news/14078988-32/new-visitor-center-sculpture-garden

Roots of Wisdom: Past gardening techniques offer inspiration


Posted Nov. 29, 2015 at 6:00 AM


Article source: http://www.telegram.com/article/20151129/ENTERTAINMENTLIFE/151129216

Development tide rising on St. Simons Island

By Dan Chapman

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ST. SIMONS ISLAND (TNS) — It was only a proposal for a gas station along Frederica Road, but it ignited the latest “Oh-my-God-we’re-becoming-another-Atlanta” frenzy in this seaside community favored by sun-seeking refugees from, yes, Atlanta.

About 400 people turned out for an island planning meeting last winter to oppose The Flash Foods. A follow-up meeting a month later drew a spillover crowd of 500. The gas station didn’t stand a chance. The slow-the-growth crowd smelled blood.

Glynn County commissioners responded with two successive 90-day construction moratoriums on the island and lower density requirements for builders.

Still, the fear of overdevelopment rekindled long-smoldering efforts to turn St. Simons and neighboring Sea Island into a standalone city.

“Incorporation will allow people who live here, who have a vested interest in this place, to make sure the island is the way we want it to be,” said George Ragsdale, an ex-Atlantan who recently retired to St. Simons. “It’s not to stop growth, development or progress. It’s about taking more control. Because, ultimately, if the climate changes people will stop coming here.”

Ragsdale is leading the incorporation charge, which faces a long haul. It would require legislative approval for a referendum, and then a local vote.

Ragsdale comes naturally to the task. A decade ago, he led the successful effort to citify Milton in north Fulton County. He said he wants to prevent St. Simons from succumbing to the same over-development woes of Atlanta. “Traffic at Crabapple corners in Milton was horrific,” he said.

Others see less altruistic motives — keeping out new residents with less money.

“It’s kind of snooty of them for wanting to keep St. Simons like it is,” said Paul Forsyth, a home inspector from Snellville who moved to the island in 2002. “I’d hate to see too many people come, but who am I to say you can’t come live here?”

Previous failure

This isn’t the island’s first incorporation rodeo. A 1996 referendum failed by a wide margin. A straw poll of residents eight years later favored incorporation, but Glynn County’s mainland residents mostly opposed it. Local legislators killed another incorporation push in 2006.

The recession and its tepid recovery slowed development. St. Simons’ population, 14,846, remains about what it was in 2000. Traffic crossing the Torras Causeway leading onto the island dropped from 30,000 cars daily in 2010 to 23,000 last year.

And the venerable Sea Island Co., purveyors of upscale home and hotel living accessible only by gated entryway, went bankrupt in 2010. The family-owned resort company controlled huge plots of developed and undeveloped St. Simons land. Employees hailed from every corner of Glynn County. Jones family members were viewed as benevolent dictators and nary a St. Simons development or landscaping decision escaped their typically well-mannered eye.

“When they left, they left a void,” said Cesar Rodriguez, an ex-Atlanta shopping center developer who has lived on St. Simons since 2001. “When their properties went into foreclosure, the zoning went with it and the new owners developed to standards (that) are not compatible and out of scale with certain areas of the island.”

As the recovery took hold, land jettisoned by Sea Island Co., including a 2,500-acre tract on St. Simons’ northern end, filled with million-dollar homes. Subdivisions sprouted, or germinated, along Frederica, Demere and Sea Island roads.

Developers replaced individual homes with condos. Each new development tore at the island’s beloved live oak canopy. By 2015, population and traffic had returned to 2000 heights.

Traffic jams along the two-lane roads blocked access to subdivisions and shopping, especially during busy summer months. And, still, 8,000 undeveloped lots beckon builders.

Mainland commissioners

Ragsdale and others say county commissioners, most from the mainland, saw only property tax dollar signs with every new development.

“We have a county commission, just like the one in Fulton county, that was not acting in the best interests of the people on the island,” Ragsdale said during a recent windshield tour of the island. “Ultimately, it’s about taking more local control.”

Glynn commissioners, just as the Flash Foods proposal became a flash point, imposed the successive 90-day moratoriums. They reduced the number of future St. Simons homes from 4 to 2 per acre. In the village, the number of new townhouses per development was slashed from 10 to 5.

“People come down here and say, ‘Oh, gee, we’ve got the same issues up in Sandy Springs or Dahlonega or Roswell,” said David Hainley, the county’s development director. “If you don’t spend money on infrastructure, you’re going to get some issues. But we’re not the only community that experiences that.”

In October the sewage pump station on the north end reached capacity. New sewer hook-ups were prohibited except for already sanctioned projects. Two planned subdivisions were postponed. It could be two years before any new developments are approved in the bulldozer-ready north end.

Second homes

Hainley estimates 20 percent of the homes on the island are second homes for well-to-do Atlantans and others. Now many of the retiring baby boomers are moving here permanently. And they bring certain expectations.

“Marietta, Johns Creek, Norcross, Alpharetta — there’s a resurgence going on downtown,” Rodriguez, 70, said. “They’ve gotten control of their planning and zoning. We are so far behind here. I just don’t think the county is equipped to deal with the kind of attention this island requires.”

Cityhood proponents say local control of zoning, planning and traffic would slow development. They would also have greater control over their money (and maybe incur higher property taxes). Residents of St. Simons and Sea Island account for almost 20 percent of Glynn County’s population, yet cover 60 percent of the county’s tax base.

Incorporation worries Pat Hodnett Cooper, who owns the island’s largest real estate company.

“I am against incorporation because it will just make the mainland and the island more divided and we have worked so hard to bring our community together,” she said. “I’m not sure their whole reason for incorporating isn’t to stop development. I would like to see some better ideas about development, but you can’t stop it.”

The proliferation of townhomes and condos, costing less than standalone homes, dismays some in the cityhood crowd. Density means more people, cars, traffic and demands on water, sewer and roads, they say.

Double the average

The average worth of a St. Simons home is $310,732 — more than double the value Georgia-wide. An incorporated St. Simons and Sea Island would create one of the wealthiest cities in the state.

Scott Steilen, president of the Sea Island Co. — a company renowned for its ocean casual chic where beachfront homesites run to $5.5 million — thinks reasonably affordable housing is needed.

“If you don’t provide opportunities for young families to move to St. Simons and put down roots and grow, this community will age out and there will be significant problems,” said Steilen, who opposes incorporation.

He added, “I haven’t met any pro-incorporation folks who aren’t either retired or on the way to retirement.”

The median age of St. Simons residents is 53.3, vs. 35.9 for the state as a whole.

“We love our Atlanta folks and, like people from all over, they’ve found St. Simons to be like no other place,” Hodnett Cooper said. “Some, though, think, ‘OK, we found our beautiful retreat and now we don’t want anybody else coming in.’ “

Article source: http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2015/nov/27/development-tide-rising-st-simons-island/

Development tide rising on St. Simons Island

By Dan Chapman

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ST. SIMONS ISLAND (TNS) — It was only a proposal for a gas station along Frederica Road, but it ignited the latest “Oh-my-God-we’re-becoming-another-Atlanta” frenzy in this seaside community favored by sun-seeking refugees from, yes, Atlanta.

About 400 people turned out for an island planning meeting last winter to oppose The Flash Foods. A follow-up meeting a month later drew a spillover crowd of 500. The gas station didn’t stand a chance. The slow-the-growth crowd smelled blood.

Glynn County commissioners responded with two successive 90-day construction moratoriums on the island and lower density requirements for builders.

Still, the fear of overdevelopment rekindled long-smoldering efforts to turn St. Simons and neighboring Sea Island into a standalone city.

“Incorporation will allow people who live here, who have a vested interest in this place, to make sure the island is the way we want it to be,” said George Ragsdale, an ex-Atlantan who recently retired to St. Simons. “It’s not to stop growth, development or progress. It’s about taking more control. Because, ultimately, if the climate changes people will stop coming here.”

Ragsdale is leading the incorporation charge, which faces a long haul. It would require legislative approval for a referendum, and then a local vote.

Ragsdale comes naturally to the task. A decade ago, he led the successful effort to citify Milton in north Fulton County. He said he wants to prevent St. Simons from succumbing to the same over-development woes of Atlanta. “Traffic at Crabapple corners in Milton was horrific,” he said.

Others see less altruistic motives — keeping out new residents with less money.

“It’s kind of snooty of them for wanting to keep St. Simons like it is,” said Paul Forsyth, a home inspector from Snellville who moved to the island in 2002. “I’d hate to see too many people come, but who am I to say you can’t come live here?”

Previous failure

This isn’t the island’s first incorporation rodeo. A 1996 referendum failed by a wide margin. A straw poll of residents eight years later favored incorporation, but Glynn County’s mainland residents mostly opposed it. Local legislators killed another incorporation push in 2006.

The recession and its tepid recovery slowed development. St. Simons’ population, 14,846, remains about what it was in 2000. Traffic crossing the Torras Causeway leading onto the island dropped from 30,000 cars daily in 2010 to 23,000 last year.

And the venerable Sea Island Co., purveyors of upscale home and hotel living accessible only by gated entryway, went bankrupt in 2010. The family-owned resort company controlled huge plots of developed and undeveloped St. Simons land. Employees hailed from every corner of Glynn County. Jones family members were viewed as benevolent dictators and nary a St. Simons development or landscaping decision escaped their typically well-mannered eye.

“When they left, they left a void,” said Cesar Rodriguez, an ex-Atlanta shopping center developer who has lived on St. Simons since 2001. “When their properties went into foreclosure, the zoning went with it and the new owners developed to standards (that) are not compatible and out of scale with certain areas of the island.”

As the recovery took hold, land jettisoned by Sea Island Co., including a 2,500-acre tract on St. Simons’ northern end, filled with million-dollar homes. Subdivisions sprouted, or germinated, along Frederica, Demere and Sea Island roads.

Developers replaced individual homes with condos. Each new development tore at the island’s beloved live oak canopy. By 2015, population and traffic had returned to 2000 heights.

Traffic jams along the two-lane roads blocked access to subdivisions and shopping, especially during busy summer months. And, still, 8,000 undeveloped lots beckon builders.

Mainland commissioners

Ragsdale and others say county commissioners, most from the mainland, saw only property tax dollar signs with every new development.

“We have a county commission, just like the one in Fulton county, that was not acting in the best interests of the people on the island,” Ragsdale said during a recent windshield tour of the island. “Ultimately, it’s about taking more local control.”

Glynn commissioners, just as the Flash Foods proposal became a flash point, imposed the successive 90-day moratoriums. They reduced the number of future St. Simons homes from 4 to 2 per acre. In the village, the number of new townhouses per development was slashed from 10 to 5.

“People come down here and say, ‘Oh, gee, we’ve got the same issues up in Sandy Springs or Dahlonega or Roswell,” said David Hainley, the county’s development director. “If you don’t spend money on infrastructure, you’re going to get some issues. But we’re not the only community that experiences that.”

In October the sewage pump station on the north end reached capacity. New sewer hook-ups were prohibited except for already sanctioned projects. Two planned subdivisions were postponed. It could be two years before any new developments are approved in the bulldozer-ready north end.

Second homes

Hainley estimates 20 percent of the homes on the island are second homes for well-to-do Atlantans and others. Now many of the retiring baby boomers are moving here permanently. And they bring certain expectations.

“Marietta, Johns Creek, Norcross, Alpharetta — there’s a resurgence going on downtown,” Rodriguez, 70, said. “They’ve gotten control of their planning and zoning. We are so far behind here. I just don’t think the county is equipped to deal with the kind of attention this island requires.”

Cityhood proponents say local control of zoning, planning and traffic would slow development. They would also have greater control over their money (and maybe incur higher property taxes). Residents of St. Simons and Sea Island account for almost 20 percent of Glynn County’s population, yet cover 60 percent of the county’s tax base.

Incorporation worries Pat Hodnett Cooper, who owns the island’s largest real estate company.

“I am against incorporation because it will just make the mainland and the island more divided and we have worked so hard to bring our community together,” she said. “I’m not sure their whole reason for incorporating isn’t to stop development. I would like to see some better ideas about development, but you can’t stop it.”

The proliferation of townhomes and condos, costing less than standalone homes, dismays some in the cityhood crowd. Density means more people, cars, traffic and demands on water, sewer and roads, they say.

Double the average

The average worth of a St. Simons home is $310,732 — more than double the value Georgia-wide. An incorporated St. Simons and Sea Island would create one of the wealthiest cities in the state.

Scott Steilen, president of the Sea Island Co. — a company renowned for its ocean casual chic where beachfront homesites run to $5.5 million — thinks reasonably affordable housing is needed.

“If you don’t provide opportunities for young families to move to St. Simons and put down roots and grow, this community will age out and there will be significant problems,” said Steilen, who opposes incorporation.

He added, “I haven’t met any pro-incorporation folks who aren’t either retired or on the way to retirement.”

The median age of St. Simons residents is 53.3, vs. 35.9 for the state as a whole.

“We love our Atlanta folks and, like people from all over, they’ve found St. Simons to be like no other place,” Hodnett Cooper said. “Some, though, think, ‘OK, we found our beautiful retreat and now we don’t want anybody else coming in.’ “

Article source: http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2015/nov/27/development-tide-rising-st-simons-island/

Word on the Street: Landscaper opens artificial-lawn showroom in Clovis

Hugo Lopez has been doing lawn and landscape work since he was 12, helping out in his father’s business. Now 27, the licensed landscape contractor has opened a new artificial-lawn showroom in Clovis to seize upon a growing desire by homeowners to save water on lawn irrigation.

Synthetic Grass Showroom, at 125 Shaw Ave. near Minnewawa Avenue, opened about two weeks ago in a building that formerly housed Instant Replay Sports. Lopez redid the exterior landscaping of the building to show off his landscape-design services with different varieties of artificial grass accented by drought-tolerant plants and different types of rock landscape accents. But what really makes the building stand out, even to the casual passer-by on Shaw Avenue, is the roof that Lopez repainted in a vibrant green, in keeping with the grassy nature of the business.

You don’t know how hard it was to find a nice shade of green.

Hugo Lopez, landscape contractor and owner of Synthetic Grass Showroom in Clovis

“You don’t know how hard it was to find a nice shade of green,” he said with a grin. “If you get the wrong one, it can be pretty messed up.”

Inside, Lopez set up several areas to show off several styles of grass-and-rock treatments, including lifelike-looking lawns and a miniature putting green. The idea is help give people ideas about how they can replace expansive lawns not with artificial grass alone, but with rock and water-saving shrubbery as well. Lopez said he’s been receiving more calls about installing artificial grass over the past couple of years, and one of the big reasons for opening the showroom is that “we saw some of our (traditional lawn-maintenance) jobs being replaced by this.

“I wanted an establishment to be able to have a steady flow of these jobs coming through” in addition to his residential and commercial landscape services. Lopez does both artificial and natural landscaping work.

Lopez said he works exclusively with two artificial-grass manufacturers, Tiger Turf and Everlast, through distributor Synthetic Grass Warehouse. “We’re in the installation business,” Lopez said, noting that he works with customers to plan and design their projects and then order and install the materials, rather than directly selling the artificial grass itself.

Lopez’s showroom is one of a growing number of artificial-lawn businesses in the Fresno-Clovis area and the Valley that are capitalizing on water-saving awareness after several years of drought.

Article source: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/business/article46826950.html