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A Wal-Mart in Richmond Hill?
City retreat gives officials chance to talk about the future
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Could there one day be a Wal-Mart in Richmond Hill?
Some officials think so. 
What Richmond Hill might look like years from now and what might take place within the next 12 months were among the topics city council members and department heads discussed during a planning retreat March 31 at the City Center.
The wide-ranging session ran from 9 a.m. until nearly 4 p.m. and was kept on track by Catherine Bennett, a public service associate with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
It was the first retreat the city has had, Bennett said. Her impression?
She said it was obvious the city has passionate leaders who care deeply about their community.
“The mayor, council and department heads should be commended for taking a Saturday to talk about the future of Richmond Hill and put goals in to place that will help them reach that future,” Bennett said.
Among the biggest issues officials discussed were long range plans for growth and the city’s ability to handle it.
They also want to ad a public relations person to help promote the city and communicate with residents. And while Bennett urged council members and department heads to look at both the short term and long term, at least one city council member said that’s a hard distinction to make.
“We need to start talking now about things 10 years down the road and start planning and doing something about it now,” council member Van Hunter said. “If we don’t, it’s going to come back and bite us in the butt. We have to start making some hard decisions now.”
Ensuring that growth continues was also a concern.
The city, which is in the process of upgrading its wastewater treatment plant, plans to annex Terra Pointe property near Belfast Siding Road once an agreement on water and sewer is worked out, and
Mayor Harold Fowler and other leaders want to see an interchange off I-95 to help spark development and jobs at the Belfast Siding Commerce Center, a 900-acre industrial park.
Eventually, that site could also hold a Wal-Mart and more than 10,000 homes and bring in millions in sales tax revenue annually, officials said at the retreat.

Read more in the April 7 edition of the News.

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