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Land owners want to keep working with county on OAR access
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The owners of industrial-zoned property across from the Old Augusta Road-Highway 21 junction want to continue to work with Effingham County for access at a planned traffic signal at the intersection.

Tom Exley Jr. addressed county commissioners at their final meeting of 2012, seeking further cooperation with the state and the county in aligning the signal’s infrastructure to accommodate a potential entrance into property controlled by his family.

The driveway into the property was going to be across from the Effingham Park of Commerce, Tommy Exley Sr. noted, but they want to put it in directly across from Old Augusta Road’s terminus with Highway 21.

“All we need is an industrial driveway,” he said. “We don’t need all the extra lanes like they have with Old Augusta Road.”

The poles’ planned location would impede putting in a driveway across from the Old Augusta Road entrance. But installing the poles and necessary conduits could be an excessive cost, and the Exleys have asked the county to look into possible expense-sharing avenues.

“He’s trying to have a drive fit between the poles,” said county public works engineer Toss Allen. “It’s a matter of where he’s at and what (the state Department of Transportation) will accept. It would appear the intersection GDOT wants won’t fit between the poles and it’s going to be a cost in the future, probably a lot greater than it is now because the poles would have to be replaced while the signal is in operation.”

Tommy Exley Sr. said they originally sold the contract for the property, which is about 1,000 acres between Goshen Road and Highway 21, to D.R. Horton, which intended to turn the entire tract into a residential development. That company assigned the contract in August 2004 to another developer, who wanted to put in a golf course.

Eventually, the contract was sold to another group, which formed New Savannah LLC in March 2006.

“When the housing market busted,” Exley Sr. explained, “they wanted to rezone it industrial.”

Exley Sr. said they decided to leave 700 acres on the south end as industrial-zoned property and have the remaining 300 acres on the north end as residential property.

Exley Jr. said his family has been waiting for the intersection at 21 and Old Augusta Road to happen but they noticed a design flaw for future development on their property.

“We asked the county if we could work some things out,” he said.

Exley Jr. said they wanted to put in their industrial driveway at the traffic signal, instead of where it originally was planned to go. The property’s ownership group decided to mirror the Old Augusta Road entrance and spent its own money to conduct engineering.

“We were under the impression that everything was working in the right direction,” he said.

But by doing that, the younger Exley pointed out, it conflicted with the position of the signal’s strain poles.

“They were too short,” he said. “They had to be moved back to accommodate the width.”

Construction on the intersection began last March. After construction, the Exleys approached the county about moving the strain poles, pedestrian signals and conduits, according to county staff, in order to make way for a future road to access his property.