That's my biggest issue -- traffic.Rincon City Councilman Damon Rahn
RINCON — The Rincon City Council set up a temporary road block against a warehouse development Monday night.
During a regularly scheduled meeting, the council tabled the first reading of an ordinance to annex a 66.92-acre parcel at 0 Ga. Hwy 21 until Oct. 10. The parcel is owned by Jag of Effingham County.
The first reading of a petition filed by Stotan Industrial for a zoning map amendment for the tract was also tabled until Oct. 10.
The decisions same after several citizens expressed concerns about the growing number of warehouses in the area and their impact on traffic.
“We do not have the roads for this,” Mona Underwood said. “We do not have the infrastructure for this. These roads are not prepared for this.
“We can’t get people in cars out of Effingham County. We don’t need to be adding semi-trucks ...”
Underwood told the council that warehouse moratoriums have been issued in Bloomingdale, Pooler and Port Wentworth so studies could be conducted. She thinks warehouse developments are harming Rincon’s reputation as a family-friendly pace to live.
“I am asking you guys to be courageous and not stop (warehouse developments) but just hit the pause button and let’s do some study to show what this looks like because what we have right now is industrial sprawl,” she said.
The latest parcel in question, currently zoned agricultural, is destined to join three adjacent ones that have already been amended for industrial use.
“I’m not saying never (approve warehouses) — just not right now,” Underwood said.
Underwood’s remarks were echoed by other citizens.
“I look at y’all as a group of people who will protect the citizens,” James McKelvin told the council. “I don’t believe (the Effingham County Board of Commissioners) is doing that for us.”
Steven Schmidt called for warehouse developers to be required to build highways to mitigate their traffic impact.
Councilman Damon Rahn requested to see a traffic study about the proposed warehouse development. Councilwoman Michelle Taylor chimed in likewise.
“That’s my biggest issue — traffic,” said Rahn, noting that he gets caught up in Savannah-bound traffic on his way to work each day like thousands of people from Rincon. “I have to leave earlier and earlier.”
Speaking on behalf of the developers, Brett Bennett told the council that the Georgia Department of Transportation has discussed widening Ga. Hwy 21 to six lands. He agreed to share the traffic study with the council and said he expects the 2024 completion of the Effingham Parkway “will help a good bit.”
Rahn received unanimous support for his motion to table the annexation request until Oct. 10.
In another move Monday, the council OK’d the second reading of the City of Rincon Capital Cost Recovery Fee Ordinance. The City of Rincon’s impact fees recently came into question and are currently not being collected.
“The (City of Rincon) has a Comprehensive Plan that mentions impact fees that was prepared by the Coastal Commission, which is an arm of (the Georgia Department of Community Affairs,” outgoing City Planner Jason Stewart said in a recent email to the Herald. He is headed to the City of Port Wentworth to serve as the assistant city manager.
“DCA requires an approved Comp Plan that has a capital improvement element as part of the plan in order to be able to administer impact fees,” Stewart continued. “For whatever reason a few years ago, that was not added into the plan that was approved by DCA. We haven’t been officially notified that we are not in compliance but the (City of Rincon) plans to correct the deficiency in the Comp Plan.”
Impact fees are imposed by local governments to pay for all or a portion of the costs of providing public services to new developments.
Kevin Exley has made impact fees a campaign focus as he eyes a return to the Rincon City Council in 2023. He contends that some Rincon business owners have been overcharged.