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City leaders conclude workshop
plan retreat
City leaders share discussion during their planning workshop, which ran Wednesday through Friday on St. Simons Island.

Hinesville city leaders on Friday completed two days discussing issues that affect Hinesville residents and setting goals for the coming year during this year’s planning workshop on St. Simons Island.

On Wednesday, the leaders prioritized 35 issues, which began with City Manager Billy Edwards reporting that Georgia Environmental Protection Division requires Liberty and Bryan counties reduce the amount of water they pump from the Florida aquifer by 1 million gallons a day. He said the EPD has given the city until the end of the year to develop a plan.

Another water-related issue Edwards raised was a proposal to stop adding fluoride to Hinesville’s drinking water. He said some say scientific evidence suggests that fluoride is an unhealthy additive. Not adding it to the city’s drinking water would save the city a lot of money, he said.

Still another water-related issue brought up by Edwards were results of an investigation into Hinesville’s water pressure. The investigation found pressure can be much lower for two- and three-story buildings.

“I just want to make sure everyone knows (the aquifer) issue is looming on the horizon,” he said. “We have naturally-occurring fluoride in our water that’s near the amount we add to it. There are segments of the community that think it’s not safe, anyway ... I recommend we put it on the ballot as a referendum for the 2015 city elections...

“Our objective is to create circumstances where development costs less. Wherever we have two- and three-story buildings, we’re seeing water pressure-problems. Do we want to pass that cost onto a developer? I recommend we do further study on this issue and get back with you with more data and a structural analysis (of water tanks).”

Mayor Jim Thomas and all council members agreed with Edwards’ recommendation about each issue, though there was discussion about options. The consensus was to gather as much information as possible and make decisions with input from city residents.

More information about each of these issues will be focused on in upcoming editions of the Coastal Courier.

Councilman David Anderson proposed creating a downtown-renaissance vision. He said some people think development has been slow.

Edwards said the city already has a comprehensive master plan for development, which has led to numerous projects completed downtown, like the realigning of Memorial Drive and, more recently, Central Avenue.

Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier warned against making any changes to the master plan.

“If we keep changing it, we don’t have a plan anymore,” he said. “I think we’re doing pretty good the way we’re going.”

Councilman Jason Floyd suggested a presentation at a city council meetings showing year-by-year progress toward meeting the master plan.

“I recommend we set up a series of public presentations by key personnel that list the accomplishments,” Thomas added. “They can be folks from the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, Community Development, the city engineer and others.”

Council members agreed.                                                                                                           

Other issues discussed included the Main Street Program, towing services, code enforcement, a family entertainment center, an event center, preparation for future growth and travel by city leaders.

Thomas responded to the travel issue, brought up by Councilman Keith Jenkins, by explaining the trips he takes to Washington, D.C., with business leaders and other city and county members are for the good of the entire community. He said they have to keep making these trips until Congress makes a decision about an upcoming Base Closure and Realignment. If the city wants to keep Fort Stewart, city leaders need to let national and military leaders know it.


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