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City clears way for developments
Council also OKs rate hike for commercial water users
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  Business is about to pick up along an already busy Statesboro thoroughfare, and commercial users can expect an increase in water fees by the city early next year.
    In its scheduled meeting Tuesday at City Hall, Statesboro City Council unanimously approved a group of requests to spur development at three Brannen Street properties.
    The area near the intersection of Brannen Street and Veterans Memorial Parkway, already home to several restaurants and businesses, could soon feature a new diner-style restaurant, car dealership and wireless telecommunications tower.
    The council also approved a change in the schedule of fees and charges for the Water/Wastewater Department.
    In an attempt to recoup monies lost to Bulloch County through the negotiation of a new five-mile-fire-district service agreement earlier this year, fees will increase for commercial users of Statesboro water. The resolution passed with a 4-1 vote. Councilman Travis Chance provided the lone dissent.
    “I just feel like it is time for government to do more with less. Our citizens are hurting and don’t need any further costs passed on to them,” said Chance. “You’re not just impacting commercial users. If you raise water rates for Georgia Southern, they may be forced to raise tuition rates. If the Board of Education or Bulloch County has any buildings that are taxed, they may need to institute their own tax increase. So, whether you mean to or not, you could cause an additional financial burden to citizens.”
    The new rates are scheduled to take effect in January.
    In the morning meeting, Council approved variances clearing the way for a Steak ‘n Shake restaurant within the Statesboro Crossing shopping center and a 100-foot monopole tower, to be built by Alltel Wireless Communications, next to Walmart.
    Officials also granted a property exemption allowing for a parcel of land adjacent to the shopping center be developed and used as a commercial car lot by Vaden Nissan of Statesboro.
    “We want to be as business-friendly as we can. We want to take the approach of doing whatever is best for our citizens, our community and our way of life,” said Chance. Chance represents the district that includes the new establishments.
    “All three developments are such a blessing to our community because it shows that Statesboro and Georgia Southern continue to be attractive to businesses because of the community we have to offer,” he said.
    Representatives for the potential Steak ‘n Shake restaurant were granted a variance Tuesday allowing for a pole-type, freestanding sign that will extend up to nine feet above Veterans Memorial Parkway — Zoning regulations for the area prohibit such signs. Council allowed the exception because the restaurant will be located at a lower elevation than the roadway, which would prevent passing motorists from recognizing the establishment as they approach.
    “This sign is not something that is going to stand out as a sore thumb,” said City Manager Frank Parker. “It is pretty obvious that there is a considerable amount of poles and other signage in and around the location.”
    The new communications tower and compound, which will be enclosed by a fence and surrounded by landscaping, is intended to supplement Alltel’s wireless service throughout the area. The tower will be erected on an empty tract of land near the back-corner of the Walmart building, according to Mandi Cody, Director of Community Development.
    “We do not build towers unless we absolutely have to have them,” said development agent William Howard, who spoke on behalf of Alltel. “What is driving our need for this site right now is tremendous explosion in growth and demand for use of wireless.”
    “We are not looking to extend coverage into a new area as much as we are trying to simply meet demand,” he said.
    According to Howard, other service providers will also be allowed to use the tower.
    The forthcoming commercial vehicle lot will provide Vaden Nissan of Statesboro its second location within the city. The project will develop about 13 acres of land along Brannen Street, according to Cody.
    “The new lot shows that we are the type of the community that [Vaden Nissan] feels will only grow and make them become more successful,” said Chance. “It is really encouraging to know that our community is continuously growing.”
    Statesboro City Council’s next regular meeting will occur October 18.
   
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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