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County vote on subdivision requirement aimed at encouraging larger lots
Bryan County seal 2016

Bryan County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to follow their interim development ordinance in an apparent effort to encourage developers to build on larger lots.

The issue arose during online discussion at the county’s regular April meeting of a request by the developer for George’s Branch, a 53-lot subdivision on 65 acres in Ellabell, to waive requirements for curbs and gutters and instead replace them with swales.

The request had earlier been denied by the county’s engineering director, Kirk Croasmun, due to drainage concerns. The commission meeting was online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was shown live on the county’s Facebook page.

Though the county’s interim development ordinance gives the engineering director the authority to make the decision, with appeals going to the county administrator, commissioners were asked to weigh in due to the probability the issue would come up again.

What’s more, similar requests under the IDO had been approved for Kenmire, a 49-lot subdivision on 55 acres, and Belfast River Landing, which has 18 lots on 28.77 acres.

Those subdivisions had minimum lot sizes ranging from an eighth of an acre to 1.25 acres. The lots in George’s Branch are half an acre, according to the county.

During discussion, commissioners spoke of the need to follow the ordinance and subsequently give developers incentive to go to larger lot sizes of an acre or more.

“For half acre lots it should be standardized as requiring curb and gutter and we should move on down the road, because that’s what the IDO states,” District 5 Commissioner Steve Myers said.

“I’m all about enticing larger lots,” District 1 Commissioner Noah Covington said. “Half acre lots with curb and gutter sounds appropriate … it’s in the ordinance, and there’s a reason it’s in the ordinance.”

The county voted to deny the appeal.

Bryan County is being sued by the Savannah Area Home Builders Association over its IDO, which includes design standards builders say will make it difficult to build affordable homes.

The county’s impact fees, an average of about $3,000 per new home, are also the target of the lawsuit by the builders’ group.

Bryan County has collected more than $595,000 in fees since the ordinance took effect in April of 2018, according to information supplied by the county. The money is going toward transportation improvements such as road construction.

 Also Tuesday:

  • Bryan County approved a resolution allowing Tax Commissioner Carroll Ann Coleman to waive penalties and interest on late tax payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic through May 15. After that, penalties and interest on late payments will accrue, the resolution said.
  • Reappointed Justin Farquhar to the Coastal Workforce Development Board for another three year term. Farquhar is director of business recruitment for the Bryan County Development Authority. His new term will end in June, 2023.
  • Reappointed Pam Gunter to the Bryan County Public Facilities Authority. Gunter, who serves on the Bryan County Board of Education, will serve another three year term ending in May, 2023.
  • Reappointed Judge Christy Balbo, Chief William Collins and Tracy Walden-Stafford to the Bryan County Local Victim Assistance Program committee to two-year terms ending March 31, 2022. Balbo is a juvenile court judge; Collins is Pembroke’s public safety director and Walden-Stafford is a police officer.
  • Amended an agreement with CRG Acquisition, LLC, the Development Authority of Bryan County and the county regarding roadwork on a parcel at Interstate Centre II in Black Creek. Under the amendment, the county agreed that costs for inspection, building permits and certificates of occupancy for the project won’t be more than $100,000


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