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Shipp: Trust but verify
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"Trust me!" We hear that a lot. We hear it from elected officials, companies, banks and developers. Ronald Reagan said, "Trust but verify." Trust is to be earned and it is easily lost. Developers from out of state for an international company doing business in America under five different names has come to Conyers and said, "Trust me." Four A International owns 600 acres in Conyers that already has 200 acres approved for apartments. They want to change the zoning on 308 acres to mixed-use. This mixed-use would allow 700 apartments, 700 high density homes and shopping centers. The high density homes would be 10 feet apart. That is not 10 feet of yard, but 10 feet from siding to siding.

"Trust me!" The developer has done a pretty good job of putting on glowing presentations about how great this would be for Conyers. How they have our interests in their heart. At one of their presentations, they asked elected officials and other influencers to express their thoughts on what they would like to see in a development. These people waxed eloquent as to what they thought would be great in a development. Then the developer edited and cut their thoughts on a video, which they put on their promotional website for the project. This video was edited in such a way as to make it appear as though these people were whole heartedly endorsing this development.

"Trust me!" If you are an employee working on this development plan to make sure it meets all the requirements and you see your boss glowingly endorsing this project, what do you do? Your boss is on tape appearing to endorse it. Does that influence how you look at it? Your job is on the line. Do you try to make sure it happens to please your boss? Most of us say yes, this does influence my decisions.

"Trust me!" This developer said there is green space in the development, but if you look, it is flood plain and rock. They have said we will take care of the costs involved but no money for the new schools needed, no money for the sewer capacity that is needed, no money for the roads outside the development that are needed. The developer said this is an upscale development but there are no pools, no tennis courts, no golf course, no soccer fields, no baseball fields, no bike trails and the grand centerpiece is a local Y.

"Trust me!" Rockdale County has seen their property values go down to next to nothing. We are in the process of having every government entity (school board, county and city) drastically increase the property tax rates to make up for the decrease in property values. What will more homes and apartments do to your property value? What will a greater burden on local government services do to your taxes? Are we to trust a developer who has distorted people's words for gain? Are we to trust a developer whose idea of upscale is a local Y? Are we to trust government employees who feel their job is on the line to make this development happen? So far, the verify process has lost my trust.

David Shipp is a longtime resident of Rockdale and business owner writing as a private citizen.

The 2012 video described can be seen at It appears on the Four A project website
To find articles and coverage of the Four A development, visit
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