By: Gail Parsons/Effingham Herald
In a unanimous vote, the council approved an application from Marchese Construction LLC to add a 3,516 square-foot garden center and covered lumber storage area to the former Food Lion building at 591 Towne Park West Dr.
“The intent here is to renovate the 30,000 square foot, which is the main building, and convert that into an Ace Hardware,” said Chad Zittrouer, speaking on behalf of the construction company and Developer Randy West. “In conjunction with that we are looking to add on a roughly 3,500 square-foot garden center and 1,600 square-foot for a lumber storage yard.”
One part of the project that is different from some of their competitors is the intention to have all the registers at the front of the store rather than having one at the garden center or lumberyard.
“The only time anybody probably would use the side entrance is for pickup and delivery,” Zittrouer said.
Council members also approved a proposal for Greenside Bar & Grille to lease and operate the restaurant portion of the Rincon Golf Course clubhouse for an initial 10-year term. The approval is contingent on lease agreement finalization.
“A handful of us either work or currently still are Rincon residents, said Jordon Bala as he explained what the project would entail. “A handful of us either are or were members of the Rincon golf course and we remember what that clubhouse used to be in years past and how much of a commodity it was to the community of Lost Plantation and honestly to the residents of Rincon. Our entire goal and objective is to create a new scene, a new environment that is welcoming not only for the members of the Rincon Golf Course and all of the golfers that come through there but also the residents and, and members of the neighborhood of Lost Plantation as well.”
There were several lease details that Council members questioned but they all agreed to move ahead with the proposal and start hammering out those details.
In other business all actions were agreed upon unanimously; Councilman Levi Scott was not present.
· Early in the conversation into approval on second reading of a rezoning request, some council members leaned toward tabling action until a workshop could be held. The land in question at 1350 N. Columbia Ave. was approved on first reading and would move 2.79 acres from limited industrial to general commercial and 18.5 acres from limited industrial to residential multi-unit attached.
Council members expressed several concerns about the location, traffic, and feasibility of developing the area into residential housing.
“I feel like we're putting ourselves in another Picket Fence situation,” said Councilman Kevin Exley, speaking of a housing development struggling with one road in and out, which passes over a railroad track. “I rode out there looked at it, thought about it, and to me it just does not make sense. There's other things that make sense there but residential right there just does not make any sense.”
Pam Dumas, the realtor who represents the Zipperer Family Limited Partnership, which owns the property, told the council that a previous project proposed for the land was shot down by the city manager.
“Less than a year ago, we had a contract on this property for more money for industrial and the city made it very clear to our buyer that industrial was not going to go on that property,” she said. “They terminated the contract and it was for more money than what these people are paying for the property.”
She told the council members the matter never made it before them but she could provide them with emails that document the conversations.
The Council approved the rezoning but with the understanding it would be a back-and-forth process between the developer and the city as they all find ways to mitigate council members’ concerns.
· A second vote on a new sign ordinance was tabled pending a workshop discussion. The ordinance would increase the allowable size and restrict the number of billboards to no more than three per mile on the same side of the road and have no less than 500 feet between them.
“When I look at a future picture of the city of Rincon, I don’t see billboards,” said incoming Councilwoman Mona Underwood who asked for the vote to be tabled.
She cited several negative impacts of the advertising mechanism including environmental overstimulation, information overloads, destruction of a sense of place or placement with people, impact on traffic safety and traffic flow, impact on the quality of life, devaluation of property values and urban decay.
“We don't want billboards,” she said. “We really don't … they're unsightly. And the one thing we heard during the election cycle is we're becoming a Garden City … and doing billboards, allowing billboards especially in these the sizes throughout our city is going to take us that one step closer. Maybe our sign situation needs to be looked at but we do not want billboards.”
Unanimous approval was also given:
· On the second reading of a petition filed by Bobby Bagwell for a Zoning Map Amendment for 3 parcels, located at 0 Towne Park East to amend the zoning from General Commercial to Residential-Multi-Unit attached.
· On contract to Cintas to supply all city buildings with new Automated External Defibrillators.
· To pay Savannah River Utilities $149,000 for the Rincon Public Works parking lot project.
· For a Professional Services Agreement in the amount of $21,738 with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood [GMC] to continue providing the city water quality monitoring services for 2024.
· A for the 2024 GMA Telecommunications and Right of Way Management subscription in the amount of $6,298.88.