A couple of weeks ago I was attempting to respond to an individual on Floyd Hilliard’s Facebook page who wanted to know why businesses would rather go to Pooler than Richmond Hill. Once I was ready to post my response I found that to my horror I had been De-friended by Floyd. So here is my response to the question why business goes to Pooler and a few other observations about Richmond Hill’s current mayor and city council.
Pooler, as most of the other small towns around us, are much more business friendly and do not try to gouge new businesses with exorbitant fees and taxes. Also, it doesn’t take forever to get a business license. I have personal knowledge that it has taken some businesses here almost six weeks to get a business license and applicants are forced to pay redundant fees. One local businesswoman called the City Manager to ask a simple question and when finished with her question his response was "and."
Prior to being De-Friended on Facebook or perhaps it was on a Facebook Discussion Page, Floyd Hilliard had stated that he is against consolidating services and actually thinks it will cost more money. I happen to like the notion of consolidating services with the county and in many areas despite Floyd’s protestations; consolidation of services makes sense and usually saves money. Floyd think of it kind of like carpooling.
Ever wonder where that $.01 sales tax called SPLOST you voted for is going. Well the answer is simple. Not to reduce your taxes as promised. Neither the E-SPLOST nor the SPLOST will ever do that despite every elected official’s assertion otherwise. Both the City and County has blown so much SPLOST money on unnecessary projects it is unbelievable. Two fine examples of pork spending, county on County Administrative Building and city on City Center and amphitheatre.
Floyd the self proclaimed independent thinker, JoAnn and the others on city council forget that since they were elected to city government they rubber stamped projects that helped to overcrowd the schools, don’t generate enough taxes to pay for the services they require and never stood up to the developers to help the victims of the various "pet developers" of the city. How many times did it take the residents of Rushing Street Station and Main Street, after having been flooded out on numerous occasions, coming before the mayor and city council to finally get the help they need? The Elbow Swamp development that Floyd takes credit for helping to stop is simply a victim of the economy and I think Floyd was on city council when that wonderful Live Oak Project sitting partially empty in the middle of the city was approved (the majority of which now is in foreclosure).
On Floyd and JoAnn’s watch probably a hundred or more people turned out at a public hearing to object to the rezoning of a large parcel of property off Daniel Siding Road. The US Army objected to the project, there were letters in the zoning file from the school stating that they could not handle more students, and letters from the Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission and Liberty County regarding traffic concerns if the property should be rezoned for residential development. However the zoning was unanimously approved at the request of Lamar Smith despite the fact that the County had not agreed to provide adequate access to the project. Then we have the wonderful River Oaks project and now some really attractive electronic billboards. We can also thank Floyd, JoAnn and the members of the current administration for the continuing pollution of Sterling Creek, the Ogeechee River, and adjacent wetlands. Bet the city hates paying those fines to the EPD and I for one wouldn’t even dream of eating a fish out of the Ogeechee.
If Floyd or JoAnn thinks the path that Richard Davis has taken Richmond Hill down is in any way, shape or form "good", then maybe it is time for the two of them to take a vacation and take a look at other small towns and how they have addressed growth. Floyd, JoAnn and their fellow councilmen could have insisted that the City buy the Kroger building with SPLOST money instead of systematically destroying the beauty of J.F. Gregory Park. The old Publix in Savannah now owned by Armstrong has been wonderfully renovated to accommodate meetings and special events. Instead King Richard apparently got his way, or sad to say that Floyd, JoAnn and the rest on City Council have no vision whatsoever, because it couldn’t have been done without the two of you and the rest of council who voted with Richard to locate the "City Center" in the backside of nowhere. Sometimes cheaper is not better.
Had Richard stood up to the DOT years ago there would have been a five lane highway on Highway 17 that would have allowed that corridor to develop. People take the path of least resistance and the RAISED median HAS hurt retail growth in Richmond Hill for the sake of a few crepe myrtles. Don’t tell me it could not have been done. Hinesville, a large portion of 17 in Chatham County, parts of Rincon have five lane highways and in case you haven’t noticed the five lane section of Highway 17 in Chatham County is starting to grow. When faced with a widening on Stephenson Avenue in Savannah that was designed with a raised median the businesses stood firm and said no median and got their five lanes. Now we have Streetscape, a scaled down copy of a portion of MLK in Savannah to further hinder the traffic flow that you all seem to support. Any request for public input? Nah.
It is hard to believe that Richard has had so much influence on people like Floyd and JoAnn. I would have thought Floyd and JoAnn to be independent thinkers. I know it is hard to work a full time job and give what is left of your time and energy to what appears to be a thankless job but at every turn you two, and the rest on city council, have given the people of Richmond Hill the impression that you have no original thoughts of your own and bow down to Richard’s every whim. It is hard to believe that everyone on city council has been so indoctrinated by Richard’s simple mindedness. Lastly, Floyd you make much ado about being a Republican. At best, based on your past history on City Council, I would assert that you are a RINO (Republican in Name Only) or possibly even a Blue Dog Democrat since feel it important to be aligned with a political party in a nonpartisan election. I think the voters of Richmond Hill simply want the best for Richmond Hill and could care less about party affiliation. Your alignment with Richard in the past as a member of City Council shows that you are not a fiscal conservative, fail to listen to the people, do not bother to seek citizen input when spending their tax dollars and are a follower. As for JoAnn people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Sheila M. Galbreath