The Bryan County Commission approved a rezoning request at its Dec. 10 meeting to allow commercial development at the southeast intersection of Highway 144 and Fort McAllister Road but set restrictions on its development.
The request from land owner Dilip M. Patel would change the current zoning from A-5 agricultural to B-2, general commercial. The property has been vacant for approximately five years, said planning director Amanda Clement.
"Tentatively proposed were a service station and car wash. The applicant is also seeking a conditional use approval to allow for a shopping center, accessory buildings and for the storage of boats and recreational vehicles," Clement told the commissioners.
A concept development plan for the proposed project was submitted, although for information only, and could change when development begins.
Clement said there was currently a general trend toward commercial development in the area and this plan was in compliance with the county's comprehensive land use plan.
"Immediately to the east is the Bryan County drop off waste facility," the planning director said.
Clement said there were no concomitant plans for any traffic control devices at the intersection. She also said that with a submitted traffic study traffic control would be improved with the addition of a traffic light.
The planning director also told the commissioners that under the county's current plan, traffic control improvements are slated for 2030 with engineering of those improvements slated to begin in 2029, long after the proposed development would be complete.
She also said with no improvements to the traffic control issues, the traffic level of service would exceed that outlined in the county ordinance.
Engineer Ray Pittman, representing the property owner, agreed that the development would impact traffic flow in the area, but that even if the development didn't proceed, the intersection needed improvements to control traffic immediately. Those improvements could include either a roundabout or traffic control signal, Pittman said.
Pittman told the commissioners that his client would delay the start of construction for two years from the date of county approval to resolve the traffic control issues at the intersection.
Commissioner Steve Myers said there were numerous areas on Highway 144 that likely needed some type of traffic control device, whether that be a roundabout or a traffic signal.
After considerable discussion, the rezoning request was approved unanimously subject to construction not beginning for two years.
The motion was later amended to say that the developer would construct a traffic control device as outlined in the submitted traffic study. That amendment also passed unanimously.
The conditional use request for a shopping center was approved, however, the request for additional accessory structures and a boat and recreational vehicle storage area was denied.
Additional county commission business included:
* Appointing Stephanie Thomas Falls to the county planning and zoning commission.
* Appointing county administrator Ben Taylor as the county legislative coordinator.
* Approving the $49 million 2020 operating budget.
* Approving the LMIG grant submission plan for county road improvements to the state department of transportation.
* Appointing Steven J. Asplund to the Coastal Regional Commission Council.