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County OKs rezoning for EDA's Meldrim southern tract
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The last rezoning hurdle for the Effingham Economic Development Authority’s plans for its massive I-16 tracts was cleared with ease Tuesday night.

County commissioners approved rezoning the land to I-1 and signed off on stipulations, varying from the guidelines imposed on the larger northern tract, for the 182.5 acres of the southern tract.
That tract is scheduled to be developed first.

“We have worked on the stipulations, and we think everyone is in agreement,” Effingham EDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said. “I’m thrilled with it. This is the way it’s supposed to work.”

DP Partners and the EDA are close to finalizing an agreement for the industrial park developer to work on the Meldrim tracts.

“They’ll be ready to go as soon as we can work on the infrastructure,” Henry said. “They’re eager to go.”

Henry pulled the original rezoning request after restrictions the EDA deemed too severe were placed on the 1,800-acre northern tract. After two weeks of negotiations between the EDA, developer DP Partners, Meldrim area residents and the county, a revamped set of stipulations was agreed to and adopted.

“I think we have everything covered,” said 1st District Commissioner Hubert Sapp, who represents the area.

Under the new stipulations, which vary a little from those approved for the northern piece, no certificates of occupancy will be issued for buildings in the southern tract until all road upgrades as required by phase are completed. Also, the EDA, the county and the state Department of Transportation have to work on access management plan that has to be submitted to the county commissioners for approval.

A 400-foot undisturbed buffer must be placed between the EDA’s property and neighboring residential property and where necessary can be reduced to 100 feet with a 12-15-foot vegetative berm.

Also, Van Road must be open at all times and have access to either end of Old River Road at all times.

“I do appreciate everyone working together,” county commission Chairwoman Verna Phillips said.

“We just want to make sure that what we promised everybody down there is what they’re getting,” Henry said.