A proposed military installation zoning overlay district got a heated response from the Liberty County Board of Commissioners on Thursday.
Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership Director Jeff Ricketson presented the zoning district, referred to as MIZOD, as part of a development code revision the board approved March 15. The group requested an official county GIS map of the proposed overlay districts and their relationship to zoning maps for approval of that provision.
The zone would require point-of-sale real-estate disclosure of operations and potential noise on Fort Stewart for properties sold within the zone, which includes areas within unincorporated Liberty County near Fleming and inside Flemington and Hinesville. It also would provide for crash protection zones at Wright Army Airfield.
Each government must approve the zone in its jurisdiction; the county’s approval only would take effect in unincorporated areas.
“You suggested that we take it back to the (Liberty Consolidated) Planning Commission, which we did,” Ricketson said. “We had a public hearing two nights ago, and after the public hearing, they voted unanimously that you adopt this MIZOD map as part of your official county development plan.”
MIZOD would require a real-estate disclosure and also would be documented on any affected plats that go before the LCPC.
The zoning also creates a small area just outside of Flemington where mobile homes would be prohibited, but single-family residences would be allowed on a properties larger than 2 ½ acres.
Commissioners Pat Bowen and Eddie Walden expressed opposition and a desire to protect property owners’ rights.
“To me, it seems like Fort Stewart keeps wanting to tell the county what to do and what they can’t do,” Bowen said.
Walden said the area affected by the zone is where future growth would be anticipated, and implementing the zone would inhibit that growth.
Ricketson and Chairman John McIver reminded Walden that the zone does not prohibit use in that area; it only requires disclosure.
“What this will allow for … is to inform a potential buyer of a home or to build a home there to say ‘You will be in a decibel zone, where the sound will be such-and-such a decibel,’” McIver said. “And that should be known, … It’s a matter of disclosing to me if I want to buy a home out there.”
Walden said the zone still is likely to deter developers from selling property in the area between Old Hines Road and Liberty County High School.
“If you pass this, … before somebody builds this area and develops it, they’re going to come up here and say, ‘OK, I don’t know if I can sell a house in there with this particular clause on it,’— so this area may not ever develop at all,” Walden said.
“That’s what they want,” Bowen said.
Bowen said he has never heard anyone complain about the noise who did not know that Fort Stewart was nearby.
Walden said the county knows there are properties within the county that cannot be developed, but the Army Corps of Engineers is the body responsible for informing landowners and prospective buyers that the land cannot be used.
McIver said the purpose of the zone is to ensure buyers are informed and preempt any potential complaints about Fort Stewart operations.
“I don’t think we’ve ever run into this problem before,” Bowen said.
“You haven’t run into it because we’re trying to prevent it …,” McIver said. “The provision is trying to protect that installation of the economic impact for Liberty County — anybody will tell you, this is not the only installation doing this, I’m telling you, this is not the only community doing this.”
McIver asked Ricketson to present MIZOD to the Hinesville Area Board of Realtors and “get their blessing” and to provide the commissioners with a copy of the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield Joint Land Use Study before they take action on the matter in a future meeting.