Developer Lamar Smith, who has proposed the 1,100-acre Richmond Reserve project off Hwy. 17, discussed options for four-lane access into the project during the Bryan County Commission meeting Tuesday.
Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said the county, city and developer all agree the access road must be four-laned.
"This study was based on a conversation we had with the chairman and (Mayor Richard Davis) to look into every possible option," Smith said. "The options include Daniel Siding Road, Oak Hill Road, the Gene Brogdon tract, Kelly Davis Road and Sgt. Michael W. Larson Drive."
Smith broke down the options in a presentation that looked at pros and cons based on issues such as railroad and median crossovers, how much widening of the particular roadway would be needed, whether utilities needed to be moved, how much storm drainage was available, the location of wetlands and whether additional right-of-way would be required.
"The best option still seems to be the four-laning of Daniel Siding Road," he said, noting time is of the essence and he hopes they can all come to a final decision soon.
Toby Roberts said he’s been a fan of the four-laning since the beginning.
"There is still a lot of land that’s in this county that’s going to be developed one day," he said, asking what it would cost to do a flyover four-laned bridge for access into the development; Smith estimated it would cost somewhere around $3-5 million.
Rick Gardner said he favors four-laning but isn’t "willing to close doors."
"This is just the beginning. This is only one neighborhood that’s going to have to go down to put growth before our residents…a four-lane will destroy that particular neighborhood. You’ll have Abercorn there, eventually," he said. "If you lived on one of those streets, I seriously doubt you’d want a four-lane highway running through your front yard. I wish the county would continue to look at other options."
Smith said ‘destroy’ is too strong a word for Gardner to use, but admitted the project will "change the nature of the area" and make it "something other than what it is."
Burnsed said no matter what Smith does, the four-laning of Daniel Siding Road will happen and the residents know it’s going to happen – the question is when.
"We’re trying to figure out how to get there with the least amount of disruption," Burnsed said. "But we’ve identified Daniel Siding as a road to be four-laned before the developer did."
Smith also discussed the value of single-family homes in reference to the local economy. He gave the example of a typical 100-unit development in Georgia, which he said provides millions of dollars worth of income and tax money for the county, as well as hundreds of new jobs. Over a 10-year span, Smith said a development that size can provide the community with an income of $43.1 million and $8.2 million in local taxes.
In County Administrator issues:
- The property owner off Sallette Road has requested the road’s abandonment, as it serves no purpose to the county and is not county-owned. "The issue comes up that prescriptive right-of-way is thought to be ownership – but it’s not ownership in the idea of buying and selling land. The property was never deeded to the county," County Administrator Phil Jones said.
The road was once used as a public boat ramp but the previous owner discontinued that use and the current owner has removed the ramp. Roberts and Glen Willard excused themselves from the vote and Gardner made the motion. Gardner pointed out since there is no longer any public access to the road, the county will stop maintaining the road. Local resident Lynda Morse expressed concern the area may one day be used for development of condos and she hopes the county won’t let that happen.
- The county got a grant to work on the Green Creek Nature Trail and allocated SPLOST funds for the first half of the trail. "We are about midway into the project and applied for a grant for the second part of it, which we didn’t get," Jones said. "It would be nice to complete that, we think we’re going to need about $25,000. The recommendation is to allocate that from contingency funds to complete this all the way through to Spur 144." Ed Bacon said it would be foolish not to finish it and the board unanimously approved.
- The board approved changing the July 1 commission meeting to July 8 because Burnsed is scheduled to have surgery June 20 and will need some time to recover.
- The board approved the Superior Court budget proposed at $106,590 and the law clerk budget proposed as $5,200. Gardner opposed, saying a 3.7 percent raise was too high when compared to full-time county employee raises, which was 3 percent raise last year.
- Tara Jennings has been appointed to the Coastal Workforce Investment Board for a term of July 1 to June 30, 2011 and the board reappointed Susan Clark to the Southeast Georgia Emergency Medical Service Council effective June 1 to June 30, 2011.