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City adds land
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The Richmond Hill City Council approved the annexation of 266 acres of land near Harris Trail and Port Royal Road into the city during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The tract, which Mayor Richard Davis called "some of the prettiest land in the city," is the proposed future site of 690 residential units – 150 town homes and 540 single-family homes. The site plan will up for approval at a later date, as annexation was the sole issue this night regarding the land.

The tract, owned by developer Ellis Skinner and his partners and known as Tranquilla Road North, was previously blocked by the county from being annexed.

County officials raised concerns about the density of the project and also about the fact that the tract would have been an "island" which means city land surrounded by county land.

Skinner and his partners sent a letter to the city showing where the tract is connected to city land. The density issue was overruled by city officials and deemed acceptable.

Meanwhile, the fate of Skinner’s neighboring Colonial Marsh tract is still undetermined. The 187-acre tract is a proposed subdivision next to Sterling Creek subdivision.

The Colonial Marsh project has been surrounded by controversy due to council members and a group of residents at neighboring Sterling Creek subdivision saying the density of the project will result in dangerous traffic concerns at the proposed entranceway on Harris Trail Road. The city has conducted numerous closed session meetings to discuss potential litigation involving the land.

After being unable to receive a zoning classification from council, Skinner’s attorneys have threatened to sue if the land is not zoned. By law, the tract is due to receive a zoning classification.

A decision has yet to be publicly rendered, but city officials acknowledge that Skinner’s 187-acre tract, which he recently purchased from Rayonier, is currently unzoned and express that there are plans to zone it. Discussion is ongoing to see what that classification will be and what conditions that may entail.

In other business:

- A height variance request from Holiday Inn owner San Patel. Patel is requesting to have his forthcoming four-story Holiday Inn Express to be 53.3-feet high, which exceeds the current building height code. The Express will be built next to the existing Holiday Inn, which will remain open.

- While reviewing his monthly report to council, Richmond Hill Fire Department Chief Vernon Rushing reported the numbers of runs are up by 140 more than last year at this time. He added that the majority of the department runs are automobile accidents.

- Approval was granted to Ellis Phillips to rezone a tract of land at 2563 Harris Trail Road from agricultural to multi-family. Phillips indicated he plans to put duplexes on the land and also that the density will be much less than the maximum allowed.

- An alcohol license was granted for a forthcoming El Cheapo convenience store at 385 Harris Trail Road, near Main Street subdivision.

- Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar conducted the first reading of a proposed amendment to add fees for instances of someone canceling and re-filing building permits and for moving into a newly-constructed structure without a certificate of occupancy.


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