The promise of a commercial center and amenities at the Independence development may be gone.
Independence, off 15th Street in Hinesville, was originally to be a 208-lot subdivision with a commercial area and amenities.
The area was to accommodate thousands of soldiers, their families and workers when Fort Stewart was expected to gain a fifth brigade.
Area developers and business people invested millions in projects in anticipation of the growth starting in 2007, only to be told two years later the brigade wasn’t coming.
Some townhomes and subdivisions were developed at Independence while a big portion remain undeveloped and projects went into foreclosure.
Claude Dryden, owner of Dryden Enterprises, filed a petition with the Liberty Consolidation Planning Commission to revise the current general development plan for Independence tract 3A.
At the LCPC meeting Tuesday, Dryden said he purchased tract 3A, which was in foreclosure, from Heritage Bank.
Tract 3A was supposed to be developed into a subdivision, commercial center and amenities, such as a pavilion, pool, pocket parks and playground.
The proposed revision is to convert the 10.87 acres into subdivision lots only. Changes also include relocating the smaller parks into one area for a larger park and replace alleyway access to homes with traditional street access.
Planning Commissioner Lynn Pace didn’t agree with the changes.
Pace said the alleyway was to hide open garages from view and provide nice fronts on homes facing the road. She said it works in other subdivisions.
Marcus Sack, of P.C. Simonton and Associates, said subdivisions with alley access are very difficult.
“There’s a lot of issues with both of them from the standpoint of access for the people who own those properties as well as city services in some instances,” Sack said. “So there’s a lot of conflict that happens between houses on this skinny alleyway.”
Pace said she was more concerned about possibly losing the commercial area.
But three quarters of Independence will never be developed and most of it has gone into conservation and easement status, Sack said.
“There is no value to that land as a commercial piece of property. There’s not going to be enough rooftops to support some type of commercial activity internal to the subdivision. It can’t happen anymore,” Sack said. “There’s not enough rooftops to pay into the HOA (homeowners association) to do the grandiose amenities.”
Kappel Brown is a resident at Independence along Marne Boulevard, towards the rear of the area. Brown said many of his neighbors still believe amenities are coming.
“People that live back there are being told that they’re supposed to be getting a pool, all that other stuff, and that’s kind of still the practice of the sell point,” Brown said. “We have a lot of kids back there that don’t have a basketball court, park. A lot of people walk and exercise back there. It’s like there’s nothing to do.”
Sack told Brown his subdivision developed its own HOA, rather than joining another HOA at Independence.
“Instead of joining in with this front part where one pot of money could’ve went, they actually separated themselves from it once the development was done,” Sack said “Any amenities that would happen with that (Brown’s) subdivision will have to be done by that HOA on property that’s there. This particular development is a completely different developer.”
Pace still objected to the revisions because of the amenities promised by past developers.
Planning Commissioner Phil Odom said the promises of one company cannot be put onto another.
LCPC recommended approval of the revision 4-1, with Pace opposed.