Some Hinesville residents along Meloney Drive and Topi Trail are worried their streets could be less safe if a 195-home subdivision is built nearby.
Dryden Enterprises, Inc., petitioned the Liberty County Consolidated Planning Commission at its February meeting to rezone 158 acres to allow the development.
The matter was tabled.
The subdivision, which if built would be accessed by both Meloney Drive and Topi Trail, includes 195 lots, pool, playground, 20 parking spaces on less than half the 158 acres.
The rest would remain as undisturbed wetlands, but the subdivision’s impact will be felt, residents worry.
Marcus Sack of P.C. Simonton and Associates said traffic on both streets would increase.
“Traffic is always a concern especially when you’re building a development on the back of existing roads,” Sack said. “There’s no way I can stand up here today and tell you there will be no traffic increase on Topi or Meloney Drive. We’re increasing lots, so there will be an increase in traffic. What I can tell you is that now on Topi Trail and Meloney Drive there’s very little traffic.”
LCPC staff did a traffic study, Sack said, and found the roads can handle up to 2,800 vehicles per day. He said the amount of cars on the roads now are “well below that limit.”
Speed was also a concern. The study showed 85 percent of drivers went an average speed of 32 miles per hour on Topi Trail and 85 percent travelled 30 miles per hour on Meloney Drive, Sack said.
Lynn Pace said she was skeptical after driving the road.
“At first it was pretty comfortable but then when I got to the last section of the road, what I ran across were the houses are close together,” she said. “I don’t think that I saw any house without two cars in the parking lot, and most of them had two in the driveway and one on the grass. Half the rest of them at least had one car parked on the road. I had a hard time with my single car, weaving through the parked cars to get down to the end. I don’t see how you’re going to use that drive.”
Sack said the development could force people to move their vehicles to increase safety and space for emergency vehicles.
Pace contended that would adversely affect residents who were “not hurting anybody” and have more than two adults living in the same home.
Steve Wiggins, board member of Cherokee Rose Country Club, said the subdivision development is an opportunity to increase membership at the nearby club.
“Our average member is over 60 years of age,” Wiggins said. “We need new people and I feel like if you come in there and put in 195 homes, I feel like we’ll get a percentage of it, right there at the golf course.”
Former Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe, who lives along Topi Trail, gave a history of development along the road.
He said he and his neighbors were concerned about future development and a restrictive covenant was put in place for part of Topi Trail that limited the number of houses built along the road.
Ratcliffe suggested creating a road that connects Cherokee Trail to another section of Topi Trail near the proposed subdivision to alleviate traffic on Meloney Drive and Topi Trail.
Ron Camacho, who has lived on Meloney Drive since the mid-90s said his children and grandchildren will no longer be safe outside if the subdivision is developed.
“You can do all the surveys you want to do. Those kids will not be safe on that street. What are we going to do when we have parties? I always have birthday parties and have six or seven cars parked out there,” Camacho said. “You’re going to tell me I can’t park on the street? It’s going to be a traffic jam out there. That is what we do in the neighborhood. We’re a tight community. If you starting pumping 200 people in that neighborhood, it’s going to get messed up.”
Monica Brown recently moved to Topi Trail from Fort Stewart.
“We got this notice (about the proposal) and we were devastated,” Brown said. “It’s quiet, it’s peaceful. We used to live on post. We do not want that traffic on the street. It’s very important to me that this doesn’t happen.”
Janine Smalls wanted to know how much longer Topi Trail would be extended.
Speed is very important to her and said she moved to the area because it’s a “quiet, private community.”
Claude Dryden, owner of Dryden Enterprises Inc., also spoke at the meeting.
“There’s always concerns about traffic problems but then it never really comes to that. It’s not as bad as people originally think,” Dryden said.
Ratcliffe’s idea of a road from Cherokee Trail to another part of Topi Trail cannot be down because of wetlands, Dryden said, adding that they want to be good neighbors to the residents and country club.
Sack then asked to table the petition so he could talk with neighbors about the plan.