The development known as Plantation Village got the green light Tuesday from the Richmond Hill City Council after members approved 3-1 a revised master plan.
At the council’s regular meeting in City Hall, newly sworn-in members Jan Bass and John Fesperman, along with council member Van Hunter, voted to approve the plan, while council member Russ Carpenter voted against.
The vote came after a public hearing held before the council’s regular meeting when developer Steve Croy explained details of the project before a standing-room-only crowd.
The 112-acre property Croy intends to develop is situated just past Timber Trail Road and across from The Ford Plantation. Though the development at one time included plans for affordable housing, the revised master plan of Plantation Village consists of 286 multifamily units, 86 single-family units and 12 acres of commercial lots.
Many residents at The Ford Plantation have concerns with the development and cite increased traffic on Highway 144 as the main concern.
But Croy said he and his team had a traffic study completed that showed the development would have no major impact on the traffic on Highway 144 with the help of three access points at Cherry Hill Road, Holly Hill Road and Brisbon Road.
Croy also said that the county’s plans to pave Harris Trail Road to Belfast River Road in the coming year would also help ease traffic. Additionally, he said by the time the project could have an impact that Highway 144, it would likely be a four-lane highway.
But Philip McCorkle with McCorkle and Johnson law firm of Savannah, representing The Ford Plantation, said the proposed development would increase traffic by 83 percent, or an additional 12,870 trips per day, according to the developer’s traffic engineer, Wilburn Engineering.
McCorkle also argued there would actually be more trips than that because the developer doesn’t have access to Brisbon Road, he said. And although the increased traffic would affect everyone who travels Highway 144, it would significantly affect members of The Ford Plantation, he added.
“He (the traffic engineer) suggests that after just phase one (of the development), it will be impossible for a Ford resident to turn onto Cherry Hill from 144 during the morning or afternoon peak hour,” McCorkle said. “The time necessary to exit Cherry Hill will be a full minute in the morning and a minute and a half in the afternoon.”
But area residents in favor of the project, like South Bryan County Homebuilders Association president John Hopkins, reiterated that the traffic won’t increase overnight.
“They (the developers) brought a 15-year vision. And if you’re listening to some of the opposition tonight, everybody acts like this project is going to be built in the morning and you’re going to have 14,000 cars out on the street,” Hopkins said. “It’s a 15-year vision and at every turn all they (the developers) talk about is quality.”
Read more in the Jan. 7 edition of the News.