Say NO to 154 Townhomes, the traffic and help save the Exodus Ranch programs!
Say NO to 154 Townhomes, the traffic and help save the Exodus Ranch programs!
Douglas County does not need 154 townhomes! Back in September, Traton Homes came before the zoning board to try and have the zoning changed on a piece of property in a quiet, dead-end road, neighborhood. They want to put in 154 townhomes that would add unwanted traffic on Fairburn road (already terribly overcrowded, near I-20) and add more children to an already over-full school district! The property also backs up to a horse ranch that would struggle to keep the people living in those townhomes from trespassing, getting in pastures, and most likely end the work that the non-profit does for the community. The ranch works with Foster Children, Special needs individuals and helps the community in many ways. Because of annexation, the ranch property falls within city limits so it has little recourse against stopping the development and the harm it would cause to the programs. Can you imagine being right next to the noise and chaos of the building of and then living with 154 unwanted homes? The point is, Douglas County does NOT want these homes on Fairburn road to add more traffic and it would ruin the Exodus Ranch programs. They, the citizens of this county, spoke out very loudly back in September when Traton Homes originally tried to get the zoning changed. Traton was voted against but they didn't like that answer! They don't care that the community does not want them here! They don't care what their "little" project will do to those living next to it. So they are once again trying to force the homes on us! If you are a Douglas County Citizen and don't want more crowding and congestion in our community, please sign the petition and let the BOC know how you feel! This will once again come before them on January 5th! Speak out! Speak loudly! Let Traton Homes know that we will not be bullied into putting something here that we do not want! Let your voice be heard! While you're at it, let them know how you feel about putting in more warehouses and other unwanted additions!
Here is a letter written to the Board of Commissioners and zoning about this bullying by Traton Homes:
In reference to the Traton Homes zoning meeting on January 5, 2021
Recently, we were informed that the ranch is supposed to have a “special license and permit” to work with the horses here because of zoning, even though we are a non-profit. When we came here, we were told that part of the ranch property was county but evidentially, it was annexed to the city and we had no idea. Because we are zoned ‘city,’ we were informed that having horses in a community like this “just doesn’t work” because people don’t like it (there have been horses on this property since the ’90s). I beg to differ with you. The lake community actually seems to like the horses. If what we were told about horses not working within this zoning is true, then how on earth are we supposed to “coexist” with 154 townhomes (with which we have been told we can peacefully coexist), especially when they are telling us that because of this zoning WE are responsible for protecting our ranch from the proposed Traton Homes community and not the other way around? We can’t possibly do that. The ranch does much for the county. The work we do is an asset to the county. If Traton Homes is more important to the county, then so be it, but you can’t have it both ways. It just won’t work.
Putting the ranch aside, the county citizens let it be known, loud and clear, that they do NOT want these townhomes. They don’t want the extra traffic and congestion. They don’t want that many additional citizens in a county that is struggling to take care of the ones they already have. They don’t want to be bullied into submission. By telling Traton Homes that they are more important than what the county citizens want, effectively tells those same citizens that you don’t care about their opinions, desires, or needs. If that is the case, how can you say you are actually working for the greater good of the county? The bottom line is that the Douglas County citizens came out in force against Traton Homes. That hasn’t changed. They are not wanted here in a community with too much traffic, schools that are over capacity, and fast-shrinking, natural areas. Yet, the company obviously doesn’t care because they are back trying to bully the county into doing what THEY think is best for our community.
As stated above, It has been brought to our attention that the entire ranch has been annexed to the city (part of it was county - the part that would border the proposed development). We were very surprised to hear that the entire ranch is city-annexed, just as the Pine Drive community was surprised to find that the home and property near the end of the road is zoned commercial (the owner had no idea). Regardless of how the ranch is zoned and what concessions Traton Homes is willing to make, it does not change the fact that if they build, it will run Exodus Ranch out. We cannot protect ourselves from the noise during the time it takes to build 154 townhomes. We cannot protect ourselves from people coming onto the ranch property and the liability with which that brings. Regardless of what has been said, a fence won’t keep them out, nor will it keep it out the noise, smells, light, etc.
However, honestly, why should the ranch zoning make a difference in deciding if Traton Homes can build? Our zoning has no bearing on how Traton Homes will affect the work we do here. Yes, we will need to get different permits, and we will, unless of course Traton Homes builds those townhomes. At that point, it won’t matter because we will have to close up shop. I cannot impress upon you enough how devastating their close proximity will be to the work we do here. No, the company doesn’t get it. They aren’t here every day. They don’t understand how much the noise of just building 154 townhomes and the subsequent noise of those prospective residents will affect the peace here. They don’t understand the hazards of having to protect the ranch from that many possible trespassers. They don’t understand how that many people will affectively ruin the ambiance and quiet of the residents that already live here. And more importantly, they simply don’t care. The President of Traton Homes made that abundantly clear to us when we met with him. He was asked by a mom “how he could sleep at night knowing that your project would most likely close down the ranch programs” and his response was “very well, thank you.” Do they honestly think a fence is going to keep out the noise? Will it keep out the people? Will it stop the extra traffic on Pine Drive (where people will come to make their U-turns - on a dead-end road with NO cul-de-sac) and on Fairburn road? Do they honestly believe that? It’s highly doubtful that any of that can be stopped with a fence.
My question is: what exactly is Traton Homes bringing to this county besides more people and possible tax dollars? Are they taking care of the citizens that are already here? The ranch is. Are they helping to feed and clothe the homeless in our county? The ranch is. Do they provide meals for 300 families and children in need here in Douglas County? The ranch does. Are they providing Christmas for around 350 children in need here in Douglas County? The ranch is. Are they donating a pile of toys to the Douglasville Police Department so they can distribute them to children in need on Christmas Day? The Ranch is. Do they visit senior citizens in senior centers with ponies and pups to help brighten their day? The ranch does. Are they helping the Douglas County Special Olympics equestrian team by providing them a place to practice and horses to ride? The ranch is. Are they inviting foster children in group homes and foster families to just come out and have fun, ride horses, eat, play games, do crafts and forget about all their cares for just a little while? The ranch is. Are they inviting special needs group homes in Douglas County out to interact with the animals, and are they watching the amazing calm that comes over them and the joy on their faces? The ranch is. Are they allowing wounded warriors to just come to hang out and interact with the horses to help bring a little peace to them? The ranch is. Are they mentoring foster children who have seen horrible trauma, abuse and neglect each week with the assistance of patient, wonderful horses? The ranch is. Are they reaching out to county residents to see if anyone is truly struggling and offering to try to help them? The ranch is. (All of those programs are at no cost for Douglas County residents.) Do they invite the community to come to hang out at the ranch, ride ponies, visit with Santa, hunt easter eggs, and trick or treat just so some kids can have some normal fun? The ranch does. Who did the community come out to support, Traton Homes or the Exodus Ranch programs?
So, in your opinion, which is more important to this county and the community? Of course, it’s your choice.
With the noise of the initial building project (One year? Two years?), noise of the residents (at least 308 people), the danger to our animals, and the possibility of people trespassing and being injured, the ranch can’t afford the extra liability. It will take all we have just to get the certificates and permits we will need to continue operating under the additional zoning requirements you have set upon us. Even though the ranch has been here since the ’90s and horses have been here as long, we must get additional permission and pay additional fees because the horses are now a “business,” the rules have changed (even though we are non-profit, struggling every day just to keep things up and running). We are not a rich program. We barely have $2,000 in the non-profit account…and don’t ask what we have in our personal account. We literally go month to month, but by the Grace of God, He always provides what we need to keep helping those who need it most. Because we use the horses for the non-profit, we are expected to keep them 200 feet from neighbors who have never complained about them. This will cause us to lose 4 of our pastures and cost us thousands of dollars to try to fix. I’m honestly not sure that we will be able to. I’m not sure why using them for the non-profit changes what they are, If we don’t use them for the non-profit, then they are just horses and are fine the way they are. If we do use them for the non-profit, then they become something more, something different, and we have new rules. How, on earth, does that make any common sense? Literally, everything the ranch does here that is not part of the non-profit is put back into the ranch to continue the programs we offer.
To be clear, we are not Chastian Horse Park. Our programs are completely different. We don’t do “therapy,” so we don’t need a special license operating to do what we do. We do equine-assisted mentoring with foster kids in crisis. We don’t counsel them. We are the home ranch for the Equestrian Special Olympics, they have their own PATH certified instructors. We have special needs homes that come here just to interact with the horses. We have wounded warriors, special needs and foster children come here for the peace and serenity of the ranch. The horses ARE the therapy. The serenity and peace ARE the therapy. To be clear, no matter how the ranch is zoned and how Traton Homes tries to spin that, they will ruin this place. The natural places in this county are shrinking too quickly. We have bobcats, wild turkey, deer, coyotes, and have even had a transient bear. Building all those homes will also leave the wild creatures homeless (the coyotes and bobcats might even start snacking on the Traton Homes’ residents’ pets.)
In a time in our society when there is so much need, so much brokenness, I just can’t fathom why anyone would choose to make a decision that goes against what the county residents want but that would effectively end many programs that truly benefit the county and its residents. We could take what we do to Carroll County or Paulding County, or any other county, but we chose to be a part of this one. We would like to remain a part of this one. Are you really going to punish us for that? The choice ultimately lies within the hands of Planning and Zoning Committee and the BOC. I truly hope you choose what is best for the county.
In closing, I just want to make one thing clear: The people who own that property have every right to sell it (and in fact if we could afford it, we would buy it for the ranch or donate it to the community), but they also have the responsibility to preserve the quality of life and property value of their neighbors. Instead of settling back and waiting for more warehouses, housing developments, and gas stations to come to us, why don't we, as Douglas County, take proactive steps, like some other counties, and go after some businesses that would truly IMPROVE our county?