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County wont back Guyton annexation
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Effingham County commissioners rebuffed Guyton’s request to endorse its proposal to annex more than 3,000 acres, including the land where it intends to build its controversial wastewater treatment plant.

Commissioners voted 6-0 to deny the request and will write a letter to the county’s legislative delegation in opposition to the annexation.

Guyton City Attorney Ramona Bartos said city officials met with county commissioners and County Administrator David Crawley to discuss the annexation. But nobody from the county could recall having such talks.

“I don’t remember ever having that conversation,” said Commissioner Verna Phillips.

“Neither does staff,” Crawley added.

Bartos said it was mentioned in the December 2008 public hearing on the sewage treatment plant required by the state Environmental Protection Division and during last summer’s forums conducted by the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeepers.

“It’s been public knowledge for some time,” Bartos said.

Commissioners offered their concerns not only about how much land was to be annexed but also that the tracts were not contiguous to the city’s current limits.

“The staff has several concerns,” said County Administrator David Crawley. “This is almost twice the existing land Guyton has in its city limits. At its nearest point, it’s 1,000 feet to the city limits and from the center of the city, it’s a mile and a half.”

Frank Arden warned commissioners that allowing Guyton to annex the land means the county loses control over its zoning. He also repeated his desires to have Guyton continue talks with the county over using its existing treatment plant, rather than building the planned treatment plant. Guyton has a $13.3 million loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority for the sewage treatment plant.

“A lot of us think it would be nice to find extra customers for the Effingham County wastewater treatment plant,” he said, “before Guyton borrows $15 million or whatever to do it.”

Crawley also questioned how it would be served and what would happen to it.

“The comprehensive plan and the county’s transportation master plan do not address a 3,000-acre development along Riverside Drive,” Crawley said.

According to Bartos, all annexations into the city have to come in as R-1 zoning.

“The fact that comes in as R-1 is even more concerning,” Crawley said. “I have lots of concerns. I think this should have been brought before the commissioners publicly prior to this. I was not part of any meetings where this was included. This is the same frustration we deal with all the time.”

The remaining land, under the control of holding company Copper Station, could be developed at a later date. But what will go there and when isn’t known.

“I don’t know what their plans are,” Bartos said. “I don’t know what anyone’s plans are, given the state of the economy. We don’t know what Copper Station has in mind.

Copper Station approached Guyton about being annexed into the city limits and the city bought two tracts — one of 382 acres and another of 265 acres — for its planned sewage treatment plant.

There currently are no homes on the Copper Station land to be annexed, Bartos said.