RINCON — The lines of communication about the widening of McCall Road were open Thursday night and, as expected, there was plenty of static.
Several members of a town hall crowd of about 70 at Blandford Elementary School let it be known that they aren’t happy. McCall Road property owners are set to lose about seven feet of their driveway in an effort to make the Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub more accessible to large trucks.
Early in the meeting, new District 2 Effingham County Commissioner Roger Burdette urged the crowd to keep “an open mind and an open heart.”
“Let’s not assume anything,” he said. “Ask the right questions. Get the information that you need.”
A few in the crowd incorrectly believed that the meeting was an opportunity block construction of the hub, a 2,700-acre tract with dual-rail access 12 miles from the Port of Savannah. The purpose, however, was to advise property owners about the changes that are coming to the area, including the widening of McCall Road to 24 feet from its current 22.
Effingham County Commission Chairman Wesley Corbitt, Effingham County Industrial Development Authority CEO Brandt Herndon and OmniTRAX Inc. Vice President of Development Mike Martin were among the officials on hand to address property owner concerns. Corbitt said the industrial hub, a joint venture between the industrial development authority and OmniTRAX, is an attempt to attract jobs to Effingham County, which is expected to have a population of 70,000 at the time of the next Census. Widening McCall Road and the construction of the Effingham Parkway are crucial to that objective, he said.
“We’ve become a bedroom community,” he said. “We’ve got people moving to our community because our school system is so great and our sheriff provides probably the safest county around anywhere in the state. ... So people are coming in building houses but they don’t pay the bills.
“That’s not enough (tax) revenues and we don’t want to raise our taxes out the gazoo to pay for these services. Our county has not raised its taxes (from eight mils) in the last ten years.”
“That is incorrect,” a spectator said, loudly interrupting Corbitt.
“It is absolutely correct,” the chairman responded.
After a few seconds of verbal tussling, Corbitt returned to his train of thought.
“... So we are trying to plan to have quality growth — safety at the same time — and meet all these requirements, and keep our taxes low,” he said.
Corbitt said a wider McCall Road will provide temporary access to the hub until area roads are enhanced or added. Effingham Parkway, which will connect with Benton Boulevard in Pooler, isn’t expected to be finished until at least June 2022.
McCall Road near the hub is set to receive a turn lane, drainage improvements, new signs and a six-foot sidewalk that leads to McCall Park.
Before turning the meeting over the Herndon, Corbitt said, “Let’s work together to see how we can continue to improve our community.”
See the Oct. 31 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.