UPDATE: Warner Robins City Engineer Forrest Walker says the project will connect the new access road to Ellicott Drive. Walker also said there was a public meeting in September 2013 that would have allowed neighbors to voice their concerns. However, it's not clear if that specific agenda item would have been advertised, meaning residents would have had to check agenda drafts each month to know when it was coming.
Some Houston County homeowners and parents are upset about a new road project they say changed school bus routes and will make the neighborhood less safe.
Neighbors say the end of their road, Ellicott Drive, closed as construction picked up on a new access road to a bank on Russell Parkway.
They say it caused disruptions to the school bus routes for their children with no warning.
They're also worried about new traffic and a disruption to trash pick-up, since the large vehicles no longer have a spot to turn around.
Darron Counselman moved in 15 years ago and says if the new road connects to Ellicott Drive it will bring Highway 41 and Russell Parkway traffic to their quiet neighborhood.
“We actually have a neighborhood where kids can play in the streets even. And, this will become easy access for people to either get to 41 or get on out. And, we don't know what else they're going to build here,” Counselman said.
Counselman and other neighbors say the process also upset them, claiming no one told them or asked about the potential changes.
Two parents, grandpa Russell Stepp and mother Jasmin Morgan, say their elementary school-aged children were dropped off at a new spot down the road on Tuesday afternoon before County officials were able to tell them about the change on Tuesday night.
“We're aware of the issue. A bus stop has been moved a minimal distance. The new stop location is well within our parameters of the distance between bus stops and proximity to the homes,” Tom Walmer, Director of Transportation for Houston County Schools, told WMAZ in a statement.
The new bus pick-up and drop-off locations are now at the next cross street.
Stepp said he just wanted more information.
"Stepp: If they ain't gonna connect the road to the one they're building now that's going to create a problem where the bus will have no place at all to turn or the garbage truck won't have any place to turn so what are we going to do about that situation? And you know, we'd just like to have a little information about what's going on," Stepp said on Ellicott on Thursday.
“Robins Financial Credit Union bought property on Russell Parkway twelve years ago for future growth. This year we developed plans and are building a new facility that will house a branch, our Call Center, and our Mortgage Department. The access road on our property behind the facility is being built to provide an additional way to the building from Hwy 41, as well as security and convenience to our staff and members that will do business there,” The Credit Union said in its own statement.
The Credit Union and Houston County say the City of Warner Robins approved the plans.
But Counselman says even if it's legally allowed, they should have considered the neighborhood.
“People's lives that are involved should be taken into consideration. I mean, we're supposed to be a community but yet we're not really taking everybody in the community's feelings into consideration,” Counselman said in his front yard.
Counselman said two Credit Union representatives are supposed to come meet him at his property on Friday to discuss his concerns.
The Credit Union says they are privately funding the project and it is on their commercially-owned property.
Ellicott Drive is a Houston County road, but the Credit Union’s property is considered the City of Warner Robins.
Robbie Dunbar with Houston County Public Works says the street’s curbside trash service will continue as usual, the trucks will just have to reverse back down the street when they’re done.
Houston County Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said if Ellicott Dr. was not connected to the new road allowing the oversized vehicles to turn around, they’d work to find another solution.