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City delays vote on new store
Not enough notice given to public
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The Hinesville City Council on Thursday tabled a rezoning petition that would accommodate a grocery store with gas pumps.
The request, filed by Wilma Gaskin, owner of Berry Engineers LLC, and developer Polestar Development LLC, is to rezone 5.55 acres at 1422 W. Oglethorpe Highway from single-family dwelling to general commercial.
Although the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning petition during its July 15 meeting, LCPC Director Jeff Ricketson said the public had not been given the required two weeks’ notice prior to presenting the request to council. He asked to delay consideration of the request until the council’s Aug. 7 meeting, and council members agreed.
Several residents who apparently were planning to speak out on the proposed rezoning left council chambers when the decision was made to reschedule the petition. Numerous residents had voiced their opposition to the rezoning during the LCPC’s June meeting, so the LCPC delayed its decision until information about the title holder of the mobile-home park at the proposed site and a traffic study were received.
In other business, the council approved a planning and zoning special-permit request by Trinity Missionary Baptist Temple Inc. to establish a cemetery on its 8-acre property at 1016 Live Oak Drive.
After hearing concerns from local residents and considering the LCPC’s recommendation for disapproval, the council disapproved a request to rezone .99 acres at 510 E. Oglethorpe Highway from office institutional to general commercial. Members then agreed with Councilman Jason Floyd’s motion to fast-track their recommendation to the sign committee for a variance allowing the Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center at that address to uncover an oversized sign already on the front of its building. The council agreed with owner Dr. Michael Sharkey that the required smaller sign is difficult to see due to large trees between the clinic and the highway.
The council quickly approved a planning and zoning request by Slade Sikes LLC for final plat approval for the 10 lots on Villages on Marne, phase 2B.
A request by R & T Enterprises for the preliminary plat for the Retreat at Oakcrest, phase 2 generated some initial concern about parking in one of the cul-de-sacs. However, the council approved the request when P.C. Simonton & Associates’ engineer Marcus Sack explained the turn-around radius needed for fire trucks and offered to extend the cul-de-sac radius by 5 feet.
There were major concerns expressed about T.R. Long Engineering’s request for the final plat at the Preserve at Cinder Hill, phase 2. Runoff and drainage issues remained even after Trent Long explained the steps taken by his engineers to mitigate drainage concerns.
“If this final plat is approved, the city is essentially buying responsibility for drainage and runoff,” Mayor Jim Thomas told the council. “I’d recommend a motion that we make sure the easement will work the way it’s designed to work.”
After some discussion and more explanations from Long, LCPC engineer Abe Nadji suggested the LCPC sit down with Long’s engineers to discuss the easement design. Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier then made the motion that Thomas was recommending.
“I think that since this is the final plat, it’s critical that we’ve got the right engineering design,” Frasier said. “It’s my recommendation that we hear all the engineering recommendations before we approve this.”
Other action items approved Thursday included purchasing equipment necessary for modifications to the Hinesville/Fort Stewart Wastewater Treatment Plant, a request by the YMCA for 15 poly carts for the Liberty County Fall Festival and a request by the Hinesville Police Department to decrease the fee charged for live-scan fingerprinting. HPD Chief George Stagmeier said the state has reduced the fee it charged municipalities, so HPD is passing the savings on to city residents.
The council also approved an intergovernmental agreement between Liberty County cities and the county Board of Commissioners for sharing funds that would be generated if the Special Local Option Sales Tax VI is passed by voters in November.
Chief Financial Officer Kim Ryon presented the fiscal-year 2014 amended budget, which council approved. Ryon noted that most of the changes allowed for grant contributions received by the city.
In his remarks, Thomas discussed an upcoming meeting of Liberty County mayors with 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Mike Murray and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Gregory. The meeting would focus on a proposed economic-impact study showing the adverse effect closing or reducing troop strength at Stewart would have on the community.

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