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Richmond Hill weighs development near post office
Proposed ‘high-end’ apartments, townhomes would include road from 144 to Highway 17
144 development
A site map including the proposed development provided to Richmond Hill planning and zoning officials. Highway 144 is to the right of the map. The road at the bottom is Highway 17. Image provided by City of Richmond Hill.

Richmond Hill City Council could vote at its September meeting whether to approve rezoning to support a proposed development putting “high end” apartments and town homes on a 38-acre site near the post office and across Highway 144 from the library and shopping center anchored by Goodwill.

The project includes 243 apartments, 48 town homes and room for commercial parcels. It will come with a developer- funded $2.5 million road connecting Highway 144 to Highway 17, according to information provided to the city by the developer, ECI Group.

If City Council approves the rezoning from a commercial designation to mixed use, ECI Group is under contract to purchase land currently belonging to descendants of the late Grace Miner, which includes a number of prominent Richmond Hill families.

There is opposition to the project, including the family of a woman living near the proposed development, Miriam Miner Stevens, one of Grace Miner’s daughters.

Her sons, Mike Stevens and Harry Stevens, spoke against the development at the Aug. 1 meeting of Richmond Hill’s city council.

They cited concerns over possible impacts to their mother’s property ranging from drainage to traffic, lack of access for emergency vehicles and crime as reasons city council members should deny the rezoning.

Proponents of the development, including Angie Miner Foss and longtime Bryan County educators Dr. Billy McGrath, a nephew of Miriam Miner Stevens, and his sister, Mary Ellen McGrath Daniels, are among those who own property where the development is set to go if the rezoning is approved.

They said the project, estimated at being an investment of between $80 and $100 million, will bring needed residential development and upscale commercial investment to an older area of Richmond Hill in danger of falling into decay while large mixed-use developments such as Heartwood thrive. That development of an estimated 10,00 residences built over a 20-year period is further south off the Belfast Keller Interchange.

The proposed apartments and town homes near the post office will target young professionals without children and “empty nesters” with incomes above $100,000, according to information provided by ECI Group, which is an Atlanta-based developer with apartment and town home communities in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas.

A commercial parcel fronting Highway 144 would be aimed at bringing in restaurants, the developer said, while helping spur development of vacant land.

The proposed road from 144 to 17 would be open to the public and emerge on 17 between Harrison’s Service Station and Ricciardi’s restaurant, according to ECI Group, which claims the road will help alleviate congestion at the intersection of the two busy highways. The Georgia Department of Transportation has already approved a concept plan of the road. The project will also approve drainage for those who live nearby, the developer said.

Richmond Hill’s planning and zoning board voted in July to recommend city council deny the application for rezoning for the project.

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