Hinesville City Council members Thursday saw and approved preliminary plans for a Zaxby’s that is to be built on Highway 84, across from First Presbyterian Christian Church.
“They’ve addressed all of the questions that the board had,” assistant zoning administrator Gabriele Hartage said, referring to the city’s Design Review Board.
She said those questions mostly involved landscaping and buffers, since the development will abut a residential area between Fraser and Layton streets, replacing the Osteen and Osteen law offices and a currently vacant house.
Most of the discussion at the council meeting centered on traffic.
Hartage said the city’s long-term plan has been to curve Layton Street to the west so that it lines up directly with Memorial Drive, which now has a T-intersection on 84, controlled by traffic lights. City Manager Billy Edwards said developers will pay for that and other road work. Hartage said the developers know the work will shave off the northeast corner of the property.
“I think this will be a great improvement for traffic,” Edwards said.
Councilman Charles Frasier asked whether the state Department of Transportation had accepted the proposed changes. Joel Osteen, who is working with Zaxby’s to develop the property, said not yet.
“We’ve gotten comments from DOT, and one concern is that Fraser be right-in and right-out,” the attorney said.
That means only right turns would be allowed off 84 onto Fraser and off Fraser onto 84. Fraser is not far from the existing traffic lights at Memorial, and Osteen said he understands DOT planners are concerned traffic may back up from Fraser into that intersection if left turns are allowed.
Councilman Jason Floyd brought up a concern on the other end of the property — saving trees. There are several old live oaks on the site, and one may be taken down to make room for a traffic-control island on Fraser.
“I got a lot of calls about the oaks taken out for the VA clinic,” Floyd said, referring to a project kitty-corner from the Zaxby’s site.
“We’ve worked with the developer a lot to save those trees,” Osteen said, adding that as many as possible would not be touched.
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said he understands the DOT wants the island, and he thinks details can be worked out with its planners.
The council likely will consider the final plans in September.