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Board hears opposition to development ordinance
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Mike Vaquer told the Bryan County Commissioners at their Sept. 11 meeting that the interim development ordinance, or IDO, as presented would add to the cost of new homes in Bryan County and could drive some people to buy elsewhere – where the cost of homes is less expensive.

The Bryan County Board of Commissioners held a first reading of the ordinance during its regular meeting at the County Courthouse in Pembroke with roughly 100 people in attendance. According to Commission Chairman Carter Infinger, the formal public hearing, second reading and potential vote on the IDO will be during the commission’s Oct. 9 meeting in South Bryan.  

Vaquer, a government affairs representative with the Homebuilders Association of Greater Savannah, said his organization was not substantially involved in the crafting of the temporary ordinance, although they had been prepared to take a more active role and had voiced the desire to do so.

Michael Lauer, who had been contracted to draft the IDO, said the proposed changes address some areas in the current ordinance that were unclear and other areas that had not kept up with the changing times.

One area in particular that Vaquer's organization, which includes Bryan County homebuilders, disagreed with is to include design guidelines in a planning ordinance.

Those design guidelines, which are not normally found in a planning ordinance, Vaquer said, would be onerous on area homebuilders. He said that as proposed, the proposed rules would prevent the use of vinyl siding, set guidelines for the appearance of garages on the front of the structure, put limitations on roof pitches and would alter sidewalk requirements and more.

The guideline could price new Bryan County homes considerably higher and could prevent first-time homebuyers from purchasing homes here and force them to look elsewhere, Vaquer said.

In addition, Savannah attorney Parker Morgan told the commissioners the guidelines could raise constitutional issues that might have the county overstepping its authority.

Lauer said several who are opposed to the IDO had voiced concerns that the guidelines might be difficult to change if the IDO is adopted and the permanent document was completed.

Several who opposed the IDO said a main concern is that it would be difficult to change the guidelines once the permanent document was completed if the IDO is adopted as proposed. Lauer said such a change could take up to 18 months.

Vaquer questioned why some of the design guidelines were included and if someone had raised concerns about vinyl siding and roof pitches. He also asked that his organization be involved during the next month in identifying problems and solutions in the IDO.

In other business, the board approved, with conditions, a conditional-use request by Geneva Wiggins to use a portion of her 18-acre parcel off Parker Road in North Bryan as a family cemetery.

The planning commission heard her request previously and recommended approval, although it did note there were outstanding issues, such as buffers, an access easement and fencing, to be considered.

Wiggins told the planning commission she was opposed to an access easement and buffers, saying they were unnecessary on a small family cemetery.

The county commission disagreed, however, and approved her conditional-use request subject to the staff working out the access and buffer concerns. Wiggins was not present at the meeting.

The county commission also:

·         Passed a resolution to support a change to the way 911 fees were collected and redistributed.

·         Heard Richard Goodman of Sims Road in North Bryan describe the problems he was having with nearby residents regarding their inability to control their pets. Goodman said he had several kittens who had been killed by a neighbor’s dog. The commissioners advised Goodman to work with animal control and the health department to address his ongoing concerns.

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