In two recent meetings, developer Lamar Smith has gone public with his plans for his 1,100-acre tract off Daniel Siding Road that is currently being annexed into the city of Richmond Hill.
The project will be breaking ground in six months, and homes will go on sale in spring of 2008.
Smith presented a power point presentation, complete with conceptual drawings of the project, to city and county officials in March at the Mulberry Inn in Savannah and also at a recent meeting of the Richmond Hill Rotary Club.
At the Rotary meeting, Richmond Hill Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar introduced Smith. Scholar said that city officials have nicknamed the massive Daniel Siding project "city within a city".
Smith revealed that the actual name of the planned community is Richmond Reserve. During his presentation, he reviewed many of the techniques and styles he has utilized to build his numerous area subdivisions and said that he has pulled from his achievements and mistakes in designing Richmond Reserve.
"With Richmond Reserve, I am trying to find a smarter way to grow to create a more livable community," said Smith.
Smith said that his experiences have led him to many of the features that will be implemented into the homes at Richmond Reserve. This includes narrow driveways, homes that "do not allow the garage to be dominant feature" in regard to the frontal view, and a common type of fencing and sidewalks throughout the community because "we believe that uniformity and consistency is the key to a good community."
A strong focus of the new planned community seems to be a natural setting which is emphasized by conservation efforts resulting in over 30 percent dedicated to nature trails and green space."We wanted to use the wetlands as an amenity instead of just something to drain water into," Smith said.
Some of the other amenities at Richmond Reserve will be multiple parks, sidewalks and tree lined streets and a common clubhouse to feature swimming pools and tennis courts.
"We haven’t fully visualized all the amenities yet," said Smith’s Amenity Project Manager Ben Kennedy. "We are still in the planning stages, but this will absolutely be an amenity rich community."
Richmond Reserve will entail stages with the first stage to include a "village" of homes. That village will eventually branch out to other communities within the tract.
"Each community will have its own unique home style with different architectural features," said Kennedy. "This allows us to bring in a variety of home products at different price points."
Kennedy said that future phases could possibly evoke their own identity beyond "Richmond Reserve". He also noted that 50,000 square feet has been reserved in the front of the community for a potential retail/commercial community that will "be developed later as the subdivision begins to grow."
But not everyone is happy about the project. Bill Helm expressed some concern in regard to potential traffic problems that may result from this project. Helm said he is going to try to rally his neighbors to protest the project.
"The traffic situation on 17 is so bad now, and this will make it much worse," said Helm. "Liberty County already has some big development projects on the table for highway 17. I’ve already seen EMS having a hard time weaving through that morning rush hour. I know this is Lamar’s business, and I don’t begrudge that. I just get the feeling that (the city) will keep trying to build more and more on this highway and we can’t handle what we’ve got right now."
Kennedy said improvements will help the roads handle the traffic.
"We’ve done our research and actively pursued the county's advice," he said. "We have met with the county and agreed on the improvements to be made. These improvement will help with the increased traffic. With our improvements, Highway 17 and Daniel Siding Road can handle the additional traffic."
Kennedy added their company will pay for road improvements to help ease the additional traffic. These include widening and putting curb and gutter on Daniel Siding Road and putting in a median cut on Highway 17 at Daniel Siding Road.