Scores of Hinesville residents met Tuesday in city-council chambers for the second of three Veterans Parkway development workshops.
Jeff Ricketson, executive director of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, discussed the goals of the LCPC’s master plan. The LCPC would include recommendations for appropriate land use, architectural and landscape sketches, proposed public improvement, recommended transportation improvements and strategies for public and private implementation of the plan.
He said the master plan reflects the information learned from surveys completed by attendees of the May workshop. These "visual preferences" included the top 10 photos representing proposed residential and commercial development and current sites around the city, including Irene Thomas Park and Memorial Drive. It also included the bottom 10 photos that depicted current blighted areas around the city.
"We used the visual preference surveys to develop the plan," said Ricketson, who reiterated the plan remains in the developing process. "The survey consisted of 93 pictures, which you responded to according to your preference and priorities. We also used the 74 surveys that were returned to come up with our seven guiding principles."
These principles are:
1. Ensure transportation and traffic flow are primary considerations for new development and improvements.
2. Create awareness for existing parks in the area and explore opportunities to create new parks.
3. Develop appearance standards for new commercial development.
4. Make neighborhood protection and community character primary considerations for new development and improvements.
5. Focus on the creation and enhancement of pedestrian facilities like biking and walking trails.
6. Define specific areas of residential and commercial uses based on existing development with an overlay district map to guide development.
7. Use existing zoning designations to encourage desired commercial development, especially restaurants and grocery stores.
Ricketson said survey responses indicated that residents, business owners and homeowners along the Veterans Parkway corridor were especially concerned about securing their neighborhood as a "livable area."
When he asked the audience if there were questions, he found there were many.
The first question was if the LCPC had considered the dollar amount necessary to achieve the development goals under consideration. He acknowledged that costs were an important issue and that costs for growth had to be "guided and directed" as part of the development process.
An unidentified resident noted that as commercial developments along the corridor increase, the value of nearby undeveloped property also will increase, and with that increase value, there would be increased property taxes.
Several questions were asked about the possibility of re-zoning the corridor. Ricketson said the city council had supported a plan that development would follow existing zoning. However, George Holtzman, owner of Caldwell Banker, Holtzman Realtors, noted that in the past, the city had approved what he referred to a "blanket" re-zoning of certain areas.
Ricketson said anyone is free to ask the city council to re-zone a particular property, but the council is not obligated to approve the request. Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier interjected that the council is not considering re-zoning any parcels along the corridor. Another man asked if he could get that in writing, which caused an outburst of laughter.
Another question concerned determining safe speed limit in areas along the parkway already congested with traffic as well as areas of new development. Nils Gustavson, LCPC transportation engineer, said speed limits would be studied with information provided by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Other questions included questions about crosswalks, service roads and planned renovations of S. Main Street, particularly where it intersects with Veterans Parkway.
Also attending Tuesday’s workshop were City Councilman David Anderson and former mayor Allen Brown.
Ricketson said the next development workshop will be 5:30 p.m. Oct. 29.