Hinesville residents who live or own property along Veterans Parkway were able to see the final draft of the master plan for the Veterans Parkway Overlay District on Tuesday at city hall.
Jeff Ricketson, director of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, presented the master plan to residents, who filled the city-council chambers.
Ricketson said plans for the parkway-overlay district were developed over several months with two council workshops and now three public hearings.
Ricketson said the LCPC tried to address all the concerns expressed in previous workshops and hearings.
Each stakeholder attending Tuesday’s public hearing received a copy of the master plan, then was greeted with four large overlays depicting certain aspects of the corridor. The overlay map getting the most attention was the Master Plan Land Use, which color-coded specific land-use activities, including single-family residential, medium-density residential, a neighborhood-activity center and a large commercial-activity center.
Almost immediately, residents with homes or property in the single-family residential area between E.G. Miles Parkway and South Main Street began asking questions about the commercial-activity center bordering their properties. One resident, who said her home was along Cherry Morrell Street, asked if the city was going to buy her home. She said commercial development near her home would make it difficult to sell.
Ricketson explained that the property between the residential area and the parkway was zoned commercial, and nothing was changing except that LCPC was limiting the depth of commercial development in that area. He emphasized the master plan changes no existing zoning, though it does allow residents or developers to request changes.
"We have had extensive input from residents in this area," Ricketson said. "Cherry Morrell (Street) is still zoned residential on both sides of the street."
Another resident, Pat Burly Johnson, who owns property along Cherry Morrell Street, was concerned with a suggestion by the LCPC to add an additional 3-foot buffer to commercial property. Ricketson defined a buffer as the area between the public right-of-way and the commercial or residential property. Commercial developments of more than 5 acres would have to have a 6-foot buffer, and developments more than 10 acres would need a 12-foot buffer.
"I don’t have any issues with identification with a big commercial area in the future," Johnson said. "I do have issues with an added buffer. Adding to existing buffers discourages development."
Ricketson said he would take the concerns expressed about the commercial development in that area and especially concerns about buffers back to the LCPC. He said given the opposition to increased buffers, the suggested increased buffers "may go away."
He discussed appearance of developments along the parkway corridor, including signage and street lighting. Building appearance would restrict building footprints to no more than 25 percent of the parcel’s square footage, and at least half of the building’s exterior walls must be faced with brick, stucco or stone, he said.
Ricketson also talked about transportation plans. Traffic access should be in accordance with city ordinances and Georgia Department of Transportation, and should, wherever possible, be limited to right-in, right-out turns.
An attendee asked whether there were plans for new traffic lights along the parkway. Ricketson said traffic lights were in the purview of the DOT and was not part of the overlay study.
He concluded with a brief discussion of plans for recreation along the parkway. He said more signs directing people to Irene Thomas Park were planned to encourage greater park use. He also mentioned a future Evergreen Park greenway planned for the area near Veterans Parkway.
Ricketson said he will present the master plan to city council Dec. 5.