The Richmond Hill City Council voted 3-0 Tuesday night to spend $692,000 on the next phase of developing its 51-acre “town center” site off Highway 144 across from the Cherry Hill entrance to The Ford Plantation.
Councilman Johnny Murphy, a partner in the investment group that sold the property to the city for $1 million in October 2015, recused himself from the vote, as he has done in all matters pertaining to the land.
The work will include extending a road through the property with sewer and water lines along with curbs and gutters. Assistant City Manager Scott Allison said the path for the road has already been cleared, and that the work should be done by the end of the year. Phase one of the project includes the entryway — with a deceleration lane required by GDOT for eastbound Highway 144 traffic — as well as a lift station for sewage.
City officials said when the land was purchased that the focal point of the project would include a park similar to Savannah’s Forsyth Park, as well as a downtown area with shops and restaurants and eventually a new city hall.
Previous discussions had also included locating a new Richmond Hill library there, but library officials have since said they would prefer a location in south Bryan County that provides road frontage and room for expansion.
City officials have said it will recoup part of the cost of improving the land through permits and connection fees when adjacent properties are developed. Allison said one such project, now in the engineering stages, could be a 180-unit apartment complex.
In other business, the council approved a preliminary plat for Fairway Links, a 60-unit townhome development planned for Port Royal Road between Sterling Links Golf Club and the Publix shopping plaza.