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Hearing on builders’ suit set for Friday
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A judge will hear arguments beginning at 9 a.m. Friday in a Pembroke courtroom on Bryan County’s interim development ordinance and its $3,000 impact fee on homes built in South Bryan after April 1.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Savannah filed suit against Bryan County in February over the ordinance, which seeks to impose “design standards” and restrict the use of certain materials such as vinyl siding in the building of homes.

Both that group and Savannah Area Realtors say the county’s ordinances are discriminatory and will price low and moderate income home buyers out of the South Bryan market.

Home builders also say the measures unfairly target them and will cause financial hardship, in some case due to money they’ve already invested in projects.

The county has maintained the IDO and impact fees are necessary to help manage growth and fund transportation infrastructure in South Bryan, where most of the county’s booming growth has occurred.

Court documents filed by the home builders association show builders estimate the new standards and fees will add up to $20,000 to the cost of a new home in South Bryan.

They also say the design standards restrict architects’ First Amendment right to free speech by limiting their “expressive conduct.”

Builders claim the new standards “have the actual and/or intended effect of excluding low and middle income housing and homebuyers from South Bryan County (and redirecting those citizens to North Bryan County, where the public school systems and roadways are less desirable),” according to court records.

Those documents claim the county’s new ordinance “has the actual and intended effect of shifting lower to moderate income homes and individuals to North Bryan County while imposing expensive architectural and design standards upon housing in South Bryan County in order to create an ‘exclusive club’ in that area.”

Atlantic Judicial Circuit Senior Judge Robert Russell is presiding over the case.

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