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Streetscape project Phase I approved by city

The Richmond Hill City Council unanimously adopted and approved the design of Phase I of the Streetscape Project during the July 1 council meeting.

Project engineer Carey Nagler and Community Development Specialist Jan Bass said construction of Phase I should begin as early as next spring.

The phase one design has been sent to the Georgia Department of Transportation and the city is currently awaiting approval on it. Once the design is approved, construction plans will be submitted to DOT for approval before a groundbreaking is initiated.

Phase I will include sidewalks and a grassy median on Hwy. 144 in front of Richard R. Davis Drive, with a cross walk leading to City Hall. Benches and landscaping will stretch from City Hall to the police station, there will be new short term parking spaces in front of City Hall, a grassy traffic island, live oak and sidewalks and crosswalks added to the area between City Hall and the police station. A new sidewalk will also border Richard R. Davis Drive.

"The overall goal is to get more pedestrians to walk the town while making this area feel more like a downtown setting," Nagler said.

Nagler also said there will be staggered crossing points along Hwy. 144 "to try to get folks across 144 safely. 20,000 vehicles per day travel that road, which is extremely busy by small town standards."

In 2006, the city applied for a $2.1 million federal grant to undergo the project. Bass said only $300,000 ended up being federally allocated, and $75,000 in city funds are being allocated. Therefore, the project had to be broken up into stages.

Bass said the Streetscape Project will have two or three more phases, and a grant for phase two will be applied for in the near future. Future phases will extend the grassy median all the way up to Hwy. 17 and see the addition of a traffic light at the intersection of Hwy. 144 and Cedar Street. Bass is hopeful the grants will roll in in a manner that will allow the construction in its entirety to be continuous.

In other business:

- A request to rezone a 353-foot single-family residential tract at the corner of Cherokee Street and Hwy. 144 was presented by realtor Cathy Butler Gregory on behalf of property owner William Appleby.

One of those homeowners, Ron Denmark, spoke out in opposition to the project. He said the tract is too close to his home to be commercial, it would cause increased traffic and could prompt other tracts in the area to also go commercial.

Gregory presented letters from several other neighboring homeowners granting their approval for the rezoning.

She ended up withdrawing the request before council voted, to give council members more time to review the plans and approval letters. This issue will come back up at a council meeting in the near future.

- A proposed Flood Ordinance was adopted. Melton said this is a component of the recently completed stormwater master plan, which will be up for adoption at the first council meeting in August.

- A building sign for a new Blimpie restaurant was approved. The restaurant is slated to be built inside the new El Cheapo gas station on Harris Trail Road.



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