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Company asking for OK of massive development
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Developer preserving nature

Plum Creek plans have been in the works for the past year and Powell said the company is working closely with the Georgia Conservancy to maximize the use of green space on site.
They agreed to preserve almost all the hammocks on site, which, according to Powell, “is sort of above the call of duty.”
“I would say … this property is the most special because when you sit there and look at it … the marsh front on this is just incredible,” Powell said. “It’s a matter of you can sit there and look for miles and miles and just see marsh.”
Company officials say they like the potential market to come from having access to I-95, the coast and the marsh.
“With property that is as unique as it is, we’re getting a better result from a big picture development,” Powell said. “It doesn’t make sense for this to be a development done in a piecemeal prospective.”    
Uplands will have deep-water access on north Newport River in St. Catherine’s.
Powell already said the property would not allow private docks, but there will be one site set aside for river access.
With approximately 784,000 acres, Plum Creek Timber Company is the largest land owner in Georgia.
Plum Creek merged with Georgia-Pacific Corp. in 2000.
Governmental heads in Liberty County will be deciding in the next couple months whether to allow the state’s largest landowner to develop inside county lines.
Plum Creek wants 10,413 acres to put up approximately 7,800 residential units and an undecided amount of commercial and industrial structures, according Plum Creek Southern Region Director Todd Powell.
“The best way I would describe it [is] call it more of a village,” Powell said, adding it’s based upon traditional neighborhood design.
Powell has recently been unofficially meeting with local representatives to explain the company’s plans and, most recently, applied for a planning unit development, or PUD, permit with Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission.
Sonny Timmerman, Liberty County Planning Commission director, said the commission tabled the decision at last week and will rule on the permit at its May meeting.
Powell said Plum Creek got a 30-day extension to hand in their permit application.
“We’re in the process of making changes in the plan before we submit the application,” Powell said.
But proposal changes were needed before, when the company came before officials with the same sort of development plans and concern prompted Commissioner Marion Stevens to organize a public meeting last November.
“They had a quite a few questions,” Stevens said, recalling those who were in favor and those opposed.
“I know a lot of people want to come in and do a large-scale project but … it’s [usually] for a group like that to be that anxious to want to meet with people over and over,” he said.
Transportation and access to water and sewer were the top concerns during the neighborhood meeting.
“We’ve had some other places in the county that said their subdivisions would bring in X amount of tax dollars,” Stevens said. “If it goes under, it’s not going to bring anything.”
Convenience is what Plum Creek would bring, according to Powell, anything people need would be right there in the neighborhood.
“If you need milk, you can get in your vehicle and don’t have to drive 15 minutes to the grocery store,” Powell said.
And residents would theoretically be able to live and work right in the development and “have it all connected.”
“By having it more clustered together, it provides more green space, from a developer prospective,” Powell said.
Because of the size of the tract, he estimates it to be a 25-to 30-year project.
“Assuming that the PUD gets approved, at that point in time, we would obviously wait until there is some rebound in the real estate market before we actually see some development on site,” Powell said.
Approximately 50 percent of the proposed site in the county’s unincorporated areas sits on saltmarsh, with the remainder in uplands and wetlands, according to Powell.
“I think right now with the slowdown in the economy, we recognize the highest and best use of this property is development,” Powell said.
“Right now, in order for a project like that to be possible, the economy is really going to have turn around,” Stevens said.
“I don’t see where right now, with the economy like it is, with everything else going south in the swamp, it’s going to be something we’re going to have to take a close look at.”
After LCPC makes its recommendation, the rezoning application eventually will go before the county commissioners, as early as June.
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