The Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission tabled a request to rezone approximately 5.3 acres of land from residential to commercial property during a public hearing Tuesday evening.
The property, located at 1422 West Oglethorpe Highway, is targeted by a developer as a potential site for a grocery store and gas station.
However, many community members residing in properties surrounding the site are strongly opposed to the idea.
The residents’ chief concern is that the proposed store would inundate neighborhood streets with unwanted traffic. Although the developer has included plans for a traffic light at the site’s main entrance at Meloney Drive and Highway 84, residents predict store patrons will inevitably use Topi Trail and Brittney Lane as thoroughfare to access the development.
Residents also expressed apprehension over the increased noise, bright lights and heightened level of general activity the commercial development would bring.
“After the store is open, you’re going to have to deal with the crime,” said Renee Clear, a teacher at Bradwell Institute. “You’re going to have to deal with the police presence, because they’re going to have to deal with the gas station, the grocery store. You’re going to have to deal with the pollution, the trash, the exhaust, the gas fumes from the gas tanks, the destruction of the little wooded area — I don’t want it.”
After hearing from nearly 10 area residents, Ben Berry of Berry Engineers responded that traffic concerns were a top priority, and that a traffic study of the area is under way.
“The most direct route to get to the store is to pull in to Meloney and to not pull in to Topi,” Berry said. “Our anticipation is that Topi is really going to stay a residential road.”
The commission ultimately determined that it did not have sufficient information to make a decision and tabled the request until the traffic study could be completed.
The commission also requested that the developer provide more information regarding the proposed buffer/noise-barrier plan. The developer also was asked to conduct a title search to determine the ownership of the trailer park that currently sits on the property in question.
The LCPC also:
• unanimously approved a Flemington subarea land-use map. The map next goes back to the Flemington City Council and the Liberty County Board of Commissioners for final approval.
• approved a conditional-use application for a child-care center to be developed on East Oglethorpe Highway, approximately 1,600 feet east of its intersection with Leroy Coffer Highway. The application will go to the Board of Commissioners for final approval.
• approved a special-permit application filed by Trinity Missionary Baptist Temple to establish a cemetery on its property. The application will go to the city of Hinesville for final approval.
• disapproved a rezoning petition filed on behalf of Georgia Dermatology, located at 510 East Oglethorpe Highway. The request was due to wall signage that is out of compliance. The disapproval came with a recommendation to the city of Hinesville for a variance that would allow the signage to remain in compliance with the zone without opening up the area to commercial development, which an area resident expressed concern over.