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Council looks to history, new interchange plans
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Richmond Hill officials looked forward and back at city council’s first meeting of 2021, approving a preliminary plat for a residential neighborhood near the new I-95 interchange at Belfast Keller while also adding measures aimed at preserving the city’s historic association with Henry Ford.

The 65-acre, 114-lot subdivision, Raydient Places Phase 1A, is southeast of the new interchange and bordered by Belfast Keller and the new Great Ogeechee Parkway.

It is part of a larger planned development by Raydient Places and Properties, the real estate arm of Rayonier, that will also include commercial development and Medline’s planned warehouse.

The master plan for the Belfast development was approved in 2019, Assistant City Administrator Scott Allison told council during their Jan. 5 meeting.

City officials still expect the new interchange to open this month, perhaps by Jan. 22.

That opening and the completion of work on the approximately $4 million Great Ogeechee Parkway linking Belfast Keller with Harris Trail could help relieve some traffic headaches for residents.

“We’re hoping we can get it open this month,” Allison said.

As for the past, council members approved amendments to the city’s unified development ordinance, passed in 2017, with an aim at protecting its history in an area rife with commercial development.

Including are provisions – zoning and otherwise – for its Ford Avenue Historic District, which runs east along Highway 144 from Highway 17 nearly to Ford Plantation, and the city’s Gateway District, which also runs down 144 from Thunderbird Drive near the I-95 interchange all the way to the Port Royal Road intersection, and on Highway 17 from Harris Trail to the city limits north of 144.

At the same meeting, councilmen approved what amounts to a payment in lieu of trees from the developer of the Buttonwood subdivision at the corner of Harris Trial and Timber Trial.

Allison said the developer worked to include trees but faced limited space. Under the UDO, a builder can pay for the number of trees otherwise called for by city ordinances. In Buttonwood’s case, that was 65 4-inch live oaks at $650 per tree, planted, as well as one year’s worth of tree maintenance.

The payment was $43,050, which will go into the city’s tree fund.

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