An anonymous complaint recently made through the Coastal Courier’s “Sound Off” claimed that city leaders are planning to rezone the Veterans Parkway corridor from the intersection of E.G. Miles Parkway to Fort Stewart. The caller warned homeowners to put their property up for sale because city leaders’ “quiet rezoning will make it commercial to benefit somebody’s pocketbook.”
The caller went on to suggest the rezoning action was “unpublished” and “unannounced,” saying for some homeowners near the Best Western motel, it was too late; they “are just trapped.”
Mayor Jim Thomas and City Manager Billy Edwards said they did not understand what the caller was talking about, noting there has been no discussion about rezoning the parkway corridor and that three public meetings will be held but only after the LCPC has received input from homeowners and other stakeholders, which will be used to develop a master plan.
“There will be several public meetings,” Thomas said. “What this process does is let property owners and other stakeholders have input in the development. We want public input. The study (master plan) will be done by the LCPC after meeting with and getting stakeholders’ input. The city council will then vote on the master plan.”
Edwards concurred, saying the study will begin with a database of current usage of the Veterans Parkway corridor, and following input by stakeholders, the LCPC master plan would indicate the developers’ intent.
“The plan may or may not have provisions for re-zoning,” Edwards said, referring to the plan’s development as a skeleton. “Once that skeleton has got a little flesh on it, there will be public meetings. If — and I emphasize ‘if’ — the master plan includes recommendations for rezoning, these actions will be taken based on our existing city ordinances.”
Thomas said the LCPC submitted its Scope of Work for the Veterans Parkway Overlay District Study, which was approved by the city council at its March 7 meeting. According to the scope of work, the intent of the Veterans Parkway master plan is to “empower stakeholders and property owners within the district to share their visions.”
Thomas said the scope of work includes a schedule for specific benchmarks in the master plan’s development. According to that schedule, the stakeholders’ kickoff meeting will take place next month and a stakeholders’ update meeting will take place in September. The public workshop meetings will take place in May, August and October.
He said the scope of work outlines the objective of each public workshop. The first meeting will focus on “articulating the vision for the future of the Veterans Parkway.” The second meeting will draft a plan based on the first meeting, and the third meeting will present a master plan, which will be voted on by the city council.
The master plan will include recommendations for appropriate land-use types. The plan also will include architectural and landscape sketches; schematic design details for proposed public investments such as street layouts, lighting, landscaping and parks; recommendations for all modes of transportation; plus strategies and public-sector actions needed to implement the master plan.
Edwards said the scope of work also notes the work for the study will be performed under the existing budget agreement between the city and the LCPC.