Statesboro City Council this week formally acknowledged receiving a new request from Bel Air Estates Inc. for annexation of a 36.55-acre tract on Beasley Road. This is the same land, originally described as roughly 41 acres, the council voted to annex Jan. 17 before rescinding that action through a legal settlement with residents of the area.
Although council members Tuesday voted 5-0 to acknowledge the request and direct City Clerk Leah Harden to investigate and certify the adequacy of the petition, the council has not acted on the annexation. Statesboro officials are now following a more careful procedure to notify the county government and school board, with the vote to acknowledge also serving as notice to the public before any vote to annex.
Originally, the Bel Air Estates Inc. owners and developer Lamar Smith of Smith Family Homes proposed to build a townhouse subdivision with up to 212 home units. For that purpose, they requested a change from the city’s default zoning classification of R-40 single-family residential to R-2 townhome residential.
Some neighbors complained to the council about the potential number of new residents and their effect on traffic and the quiet character of the neighborhood. But errors in the city’s notification process, including a failure to notify the Bulloch County Board of Education and mistakes in dates and other details in a notice to the county government’s planning office, formed the substance of a complaint filed Feb. 16 in Bulloch County Superior Court by six Bulloch County residents.
After a closed-door discussion Feb. 21, the council voted 4-0 to authorize City Attorney Cain Smith to enter a negotiated settlement regarding the Beasley Road Annexation. Later that week, Judge Ronald K. “Ronnie” Thompson signed a consent order stating the attempted Jan. 17 annexation “was, from inception, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
But that did not bar a new annexation request for the same property.
Council’s Tuesday, March 21, acknowledgement of the new request was in fact one of three unrelated items the council approved in a single “consent agenda” motion. A staff memo stated that the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education had been sent notices of the request.
The memo did not state what new zoning Bel Air Estates Inc. may request. Joey Maxwell, president of local engineering firm Maxwell, Reddick & Associates which is working on this project for the developer, said in February a rezoning application for an R-6 subdivision with 124 single-family detached houses was being submitted.
Old Register Road
Also Tuesday, March 21, the council approved the annexation of 1.72 acres at 3101 Old Register Road at the request of S&K Investments of Georgia LLC. In fact, the council merged the annexation and a request for rezoning of the property to CR commercial for proposed development of a shopping center into a single motion and approved both 5-0.
The city Planning Commission had recommended approval of the rezoning but is no longer being asked to make recommendations on annexation.
This parcel – location of an existing auto body shop just across Old Register Road from the new Publix shopping center – was one of two small neighboring parcels for which the council acknowledged receipt of annexation requests one month earlier. But city staff members said the other request was not ready for an annexation vote Tuesday.