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Riceboro area development discussed

POSTED: December 2, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Photo by Joe Parker Jr./

County Commissioner Marion Stevens holds up a map as LCPC Director Sonny Timmerman points out the tract in question along Retreat Road.

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New schools, health and public safety, road access, water and sewer service, historic preservation and environmental concerns were among the topics addressed when citizens gathered Monday to discuss development in southeast Liberty County.
The Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission took up some of those concerns Tuesday when it also addressed Plum Creek Timberlands' request to rezone more than 5,000 acres for a planned unit development.
Monday's session was less formal than zoning hearings and allowed residents to ask wide-ranging questions of LCPC Chief Sonny Timmerman, engineers representing Plum Creek and attorney Tom Ratcliffe, who spoke for company executives who were unable to attend.
Ratcliffe said Plum Creek, the largest landowner in the United States and probably the largest landowner in coastal Georgia, is receiving queries from developers about its plans for property, including the Jelks Tract south of Retreat Road.
"Plum Creek is a timber company, not a developer," Ratcliffe said, explaining that the company was making preliminary plans for some of its property so that developers and citizens would know its intentions.
The company has laid out areas for commercial, light industrial and residential uses, considering suitability, environmental requirements and possible profit. Timmerman said, "They want to make money on this deal, and that's all right."
Some information already has been collected. For example, if the area is home to almost 10,000 people by 2038, Retreat Road will not provide adequate access.
One option is widening the road to four lanes, but Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co. would replace the road rather than widen it. The projected growth also will require a second access road.
The question of who will provide water and sewer service in the area remains unanswered. Timmerman said as buyers and developers bring plans to the LCPC and the county commission for approval, those needs will be addressed.
"We know we need water; we know we need sewer," Timmerman said.
County Commissioner Marion Stevens and the LCPC sponsored the meeting.
 

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