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Planners recommend Allenhurst business center
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More business means more noise, crime and less security, according to Jeff Lee during last week’s Liberty County Planning Commission meeting.
He was speaking against a request by David McDonald Properties, which had asked LCPC to have four acres rezoned commercial to put up a business center and rental units on the corner of Highway 84 and Miller Street.
“Rezoning a piece of property would destroy the adjacent properties,” Lee said.
Despite his argument, the commission recommended the rezoning be approved.
The proposed site is surrounded by properties zoned R-1, residential. And Lee fears a string of stores will infringe on residents and frequent store visits from the public will decrease property values.
“My concern is…a year from now, we’ll have a gas station and a beer joint and a tattoo parlor, right there across the street in the town of Allenhurst.”
David McDonald explained that it was too soon to tell which stores will be coming.
Whatever comes will benefit residents and meet needs, according to Mayor Thomas Hines.
“I can speak for myself, I don’t think it’s going to be a major concern,” Hines said, citing convenience for residents.
The land was originally zoned for a mobile home park. Units have since been sold and the land cleared.
“Mr. McDonald could put another mobile home park and you’re going to have just as much I think it’ll be a good thing for Allenhurst and the county as a whole,” Hines said.
Several details are still in the works but McDonald plans to have the businesses in front and rental townhouses in the rear of the property.  
Discussing where to put parking, LCPC members suggested making the store right off the highway and parking could intermingle with landscape to help ease concerns from nearby residents.
“I’ve heard of it before, of people parking in the rear [and] building up close,” McDonald said.
“Still, me personally, I would rather have parking up front. There’s a reason why Wal-Mart and them have parking up front.”
Putting two curb cuts for driveways on Highway 84 was another option.
“Part of what will happen is whatever [Georgia DOT] will allow,” reminded LCPC Director Sonny Timmerman.
Part of Lee’s argument was that people have tried commercial rezoning before without approval.
“But we now have a new council and a different view on things,” Hines explained. “This new council would like to see Allenhurst progress some.”
“I know change is hard on some people, especially the older folks that’ve been in Allenhurst a long time,” Hines said. “But it’s inevitable and we don’t want to be left behind.”
Hines said a lot of people are looking forward to it.
“I think a lot of people in the community, if they could stop there and pick something up in the store instead of having to go to Wal-Mart, they would,” Hines said.
LCPC’s recommendation will go to the Allenhurst City Council June 1.
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