Statesboro's land area grew by 33.35 acres Tuesday when City Council annexed the tract at 7130 Veterans Memorial Parkway at the request of Continental Road LLC.
This is land that fronts the bypass just west of the J.C. Lewis Ford dealership’s new location. For several months now, earthmoving work on Continental Road’s property has been sparking the curiosity of people driving by.
"It’s not what you hear on Facebook," engineer Joey Maxwell of Maxwell Reddick and Associates said when asked what will go on the commercial portion of this currently bare tract.
That was outside the council meeting, not inside, where he briefly addressed the council but was never asked that.
The annexed land has both a commercial portion, covering a little over 23 acres, and a residential portion, about 10.3 acres, after the council also approved the tract's initial city zoning. In all, there were three 5-0 council votes Tuesday evening on motions concerning this property, not counting the opening and closing of the brief formal hearings.
Previously this land, part of the site of a long-gone sawmill, was zoned “HI,” heavy industrial, by Bulloch County. City Council’s first motion was to grant the annexation request and bring the land into the Statesboro city limits with “CR,” or commercial retail, zoning on the portion facing the bypass and “R-4,” high-density residential zoning on the back portion, which abuts the Whispering Pines subdivision.
The second motion and vote then amended the zoning map to that effect.
A little later in the meeting, the council’s third related action approved a formal “annexation ordinance.” City Attorney Cain Smith said this wasn’t technically an ordinance and so would not fall under the requirement for separate first and second and readings established by the council in December. Really more like a resolution, the annexation action will not be codified in the city’s digitized book of laws, the Statesboro Code of Ordinances, Smith explained.
With Continental Road LLC being the only property owner, the ordinance or resolution cites the 100 percent method, meaning that 100 percent of owners agreed to have their property annexed.
The Georgia secretary of state’s database of corporations names R. Kelly Lanier Jr. as the registered agent of Continental Road, a Georgia limited liability company. Kelly Lanier and Scott Keiffer are the owners, Maxwell said. The Bulloch County Board of Tax Assessors’ website shows February 2018 as the month Continental Road LLC purchased the property from Louisiana-Pacific Corporation.
Cleared and graded
The recent groundwork on the now annexed tract was not an environmental cleanup, Maxwell assured the Statesboro Herald.
“As far as bringing it into the city, we didn’t know what that process was going to be, so we got an erosion control permit to clear and grade, and they started the initial grading operation trying to get it leveled off for the plan that was put on the board today,” he said.
Streets are planned, and the owners and engineers have been working through the Georgia Department of Transportation process for approval of access points.
“Based off of J.C. Lewis in that corridor and what’s going on with Darin Van Tassell’s property, it’s a logical choice to try to develop this piece as well,” Maxwell said. “I think that area is our next growth area.”
Van Tassell is lead investor in the Old Register Road Tax Allocation District, which meets the bypass to the east not far on the other side of U.S. Highway 301.
Maxwell acknowledged that Louisiana-Pacific did a cleanup on what is now the Continental Road property, years ago, as required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
“They got it clean, it was signed off by the EPD, and as part of our due diligence we went back and resampled just to double-check, and it was clean,” he said.
A local real estate agency that marketed the property also offered prospects an EPD “no further action” letter.
7 commercial lots
Of the seven commercial lots, two are under contract, but Maxwell said he cannot reveal to whom. Continental Road has no developer yet for the residential portion, he told City Council.
The city Planning Commission by a 6-0 vote had recommended the property for annexation and zoning as requested, subject to conditions recommended by the city’s staff.
Those conditions require a natural rear-yard buffer at least 50 feet wide with a city staff-approved landscape plan and other buffers that meet zoning requirements. Fencing is required along a railroad right of way and the line dividing the zones.
Another condition required that 2 percent of the land, or about two-thirds of an acre, be set aside as greenspace areas “reserved for community use” but “privately maintained by the owner.” However, Maxwell told the mayor and council that while this was desirable for the residential property, it was not practical for the commercial portion. Interim Assistant City Manager Frank Neal, the planning and development director, agreed to confine the greenspace requirement to the residential part.
Maxwell’s statement about the completed cleanup applies only to Continental Road LLC’s land and not to a neighboring 12.5-acre tract apparently still owned by Louisiana-Pacific.
Northwest of the newly annexed property and not touching the bypass, that 12.5-acre site still appears in the online Georgia EPD hazardous site inventory. The original listing dates from Aug. 14, 1999, when the site was noted to have had tetrachlorophenol and pentachlorophenol in groundwater and soil, as well as arsenic in the soil only. All of these were used in wood preservatives.
But the EPD inventory, flagged as having been updated July 1, 2018, states that “cleanup levels have been met for source materials and soil” and “are being conducted for groundwater.”
Calls to the EPD to check the current status of that property did not result in a response Wednesday.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.