Fewer than a dozen Fleming residents showed up for a community-planning meeting Thursday with the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission at Living Word Church of God. But those who came were not shy about voicing their concerns and preferences.
Director Jeff Ricketson said the LCPC plans to hold community meetings in 11 subareas of Liberty County between June 2014 and February 2016. He said the meetings’ agenda is to review recent trends in each area and receive input from residents for decisions about land use, zoning and transportation in order to formulate the 2040 Liberty County comprehensive plan, a guide for development in each community over the next 25 years.
LCPC planner Melissa Jones conducted the meeting with assistance from Ricketson and planner Joey Patenaude.
“Fleming is not a municipality, but it’s almost 29,000 acres,” Jones said, pointing at the current land-use map, which mostly was green with patches of yellow, blue, gray and red. “(Fleming) is primarily agriculture and forestry areas. We don’t live out in this community, so we’re depending on those who do to help us update the land use map. Are there any changes that need to be made?”
After a long silence from the audience, Ricketson approached the map and pointed to a large blue patch designated as the Habersham Plantation residential-development area. The map said the area is zoned mixed-use, but suggested changing the map so the area is yellow for residential.
Jones pointed out that changing it on the map does not change the zoning itself. That must be done by the Liberty County Board of Commissioners.
A question was asked about the two small areas in gray. Patenaude said the areas are zoned industrial, with the larger area the site of a sand mine, and the smaller one the site of a lumber-supply company.
Robert W. King told the LCPC he was concerned about that particular area still being zoned industrial, even though he didn’t have a problem with the business currently there. Patenaude suggested the site was too small to attract a major industry like a chemical plant, but King was opposed to leaving the area zoned industrial.
“With that door being left open, we might get something we don’t want,” King said. “We don’t need a chemical plant.”
“What I think he’s trying to say is he’d hate for something undesirable to come in there because he lives not far from there,” Bowen interjected. “What I suggest is we take a look at that parcel of land and maybe rezone it to commercial.”
The consensus was to agree with Bowen’s suggestion, so Ricketson made a notation on the map over the gray area. Jones then pointed to the yellow corridor representing highways 196 and 17, asking if these residential corridors should be changed to mixed use to allow for some commercial development. She explained that rezoning a specific site to commercial would be much easier if the entire corridor was already zoned mixed use.
Ricketson asked if anyone was opposed to marking the map with that change.
“One reason I moved out here was to get out of the hustle and bustle,” Margaret Miness told him. “I think it needs to stay the same. I’m opposed to changing it.”
Robert Boatwright agreed, saying that if a developer really wanted to put a small commercial development along those roadways, he didn’t see why that developer couldn’t take the time to request rezoning and wait for the LCPC and commissioners to vote on it.
Ricketson said it was clear that no one wanted to make that change, so the land-use map would remain pretty much the same except for the sites marked industrial and the one marked mixed-use for Habersham Plantation.