Opponents of proposed travel center line up with MPC | Local news
The Glynn County Continental Planning Commission faced opposition on nearly every agenda item discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.
It all started with a site map for a travel center near the intersection of Ga. 99 and Interstate 95 at exit 42.
A representative of the promoter said the travel center is not a truck stop but a national brand which is a “family run establishment that you will be proud to have in your city”.
Plans call for a 136,000-square-foot travel hub on a 34.5-acre site that includes 120 gas stations, 537 parking spaces, a restaurant and other retail businesses for tourists and travelers.
A new rainwater collection system will be built to direct water to three stormwater retention basins.
The project is expected to create 200 jobs.
While a representative for the developer, Ratcliff Engineering Services, declined to reveal the name of the company that will operate in the travel hub, he said the franchise is based in Daytona Beach and St. Augustine. The building is visually similar to Buc-ees franchises in both cities, and on its website Ratcliff Engineering lists Buc-ees establishments as part of its past projects.
Residents living near the site have expressed concerns about drainage, light, noise pollution and the potential for crime.
âI haven’t found anyone who supports this,â said Sam Willis, a resident who lives near the site. âThey don’t want to live across the street from a place with 120 gas stations. Light pollution will be enormous.
Beth VanDerbeck, CEO of Morningstar Children & Family Services, expressed concerns about young people with developmental issues living near a travel center. Some of the young people are leaving campus and she said she was worried some might try to drive out of the county.
âThey went through a major trauma,â she said. âOur campus is a sanctuary for our children. A road stop will appeal to our children.
Other residents have expressed concerns about the smell of diesel fuel and the possible impacts on groundwater wells.
Although no one spoke in favor of the project, the commissioners voted 5-1 to approve the modification of the site plan.
A request to change the site plan for the construction of a three-story, 99-room hotel at 310 Frontage Road was the next point of contention.
The petitioner initially requested an increase in the maximum height allowed on the plot to build a four-story hotel, but withdrew his request before public hearings were held.
Residents of the Royal Oaks subdivision have expressed concerns about the new site plan which called for a 40-foot height exception. The additional five feet above the county’s 35-foot restriction are needed for parapets and elevators, the developer said.
Residents have expressed concerns about the impacts of traffic and drainage.
A resident, Jack Ray, predicted an increase in accidents and suggested a separate entrance other than the service road parallel to US 17.
He said the hotel entrance would be the same one used to enter McDonalds and Tortuga Jacks. But a representative of the developer said there was “no chance” that the Georgia Department of Transportation would approve a separate entry, as the purpose of the service road is to provide that service.
Joe Burns, president of the homeowners association, said the subdivision had drainage and flooding issues that he said will worsen with a hotel nearby.
âIt will go back in our neighborhood,â he said. âWe are in a flood zone.
Despite residents’ reservations, the commissioners unanimously approved the modification of the site plan.
A rezoning request for the plans for Phase II of the Majestic Oaks subdivision then raised concerns from citizens. The developer requested a reduction in density to 10 single-family units per acre in a portion of the land already developed.
But residents already living in the subdivision have expressed concerns about the impact 28 new homes will have on traffic and drainage. There were also concerns about the extra pressure homes would have on a water system that already has pressure issues periodically.
It is also planned to develop a plot adjacent to the existing development with more single-family and multi-family units.
The proposal to change the zoning of another area on US 82 to make it a commercial highway was rejected. Instead, the motion to approve the application, which passed 4-2, included a provision that only allows current commercial use terms similar to those in local commercial zoning.
Opponents have lined up again to oppose an air-conditioned open-air storage warehouse. Residents said they were first notified of the request the day before Thanksgiving, leaving them little time to learn more about the proposal.
Jake Hightower, a representative for the developer, said all concerns from homeowners living nearby have been addressed. He did not predict any negative impact from stormwater.
Residents have expressed their concerns about the transformation of the warehouse into a dump. They requested a fence high enough to block the view of recreational vehicles that will likely be parked on the site.
Hightower said the developer should have no problem having to build a 12-foot-high fence to block the view.
Commissioners voted unanimously to postpone a decision until the first meeting in January to give residents time to meet with the developer to answer their questions.
A rezoning request to revise already approved plans for 190 RV parking areas at the planned Southern Retreat RV park has sparked more debate.
The new proposal was to expand the project to 250 RV parking areas and eight cabins on site at 7345 Blythe Island Hwy. The developer said the revised application was the result of some wetland delineations on the site that made more room for development.
Commissioners voted 3-3 on a motion to approve the plans. Richard Strickland, the chairman of the committee, voted against the request, saying the only thing he would support would be 190 RV sites.
Residents living nearby have expressed concerns about the planned expansion of the project and the impact it could have on their neighborhood.
âThe residents are not happy,â said Marion McGraw. âThat’s a lot of motorhomes, a lot of noise, a lot of light pollution. “
After more discussion, a second motion to approve 200 motorhome cushions and eight cabins was approved unanimously.