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City Council holds first meeting in 2012
Council could vote to allow new apartments and shopping center
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    It is back to business for Statesboro city councilmen today, who will convene for their first meeting in 2012 after a month-long holiday break.
    Council, along with the mayor and city manager, will gather in city hall’s chambers at 9 a.m. to begin the new year by swearing in recently reelected officials and appointing a mayor pro tem to serve for the next two years.
    Councilmen Gary Lewis, Will Britt and Travis Chance will each renew oaths of office before Bulloch County Probate Judge Lee Deloach after being chosen by voters in November to retain their respective district seats.
    The group will then elect one of its members as mayor pro tempore — who will, in the absence or disqualification of the mayor, be the presiding officer of the city council.
    Britt currently holds the post.
    Among a short list of agenda items for council’s consideration is a pair of zoning requests that could make way for new housing projects along Highway 301 North and a shopping center on Lanier Drive, a short distance from Paulson Stadium.
    According to City Manager Frank Parker, Jennings Construction and Development will look to rezone tracts of land on Highway 301 North, at the site of Northbridge Subdivision, for high and medium-density residential uses. Amendments would allow for apartments and/or duplexes to be constructed at the location.
    “I think the changes would be a plus for the subdivision and neighborhood,” Parker said. “Rezoning the land (currently zoned for commercial projects) would make it more consistent with the rest of the neighborhood. Also, the owner feels rezoning could revitalize the property.”
    A second amendment request could lead to new business where aged and heavily used apartments now sit, he said.
    The owner of a 2.73-acre tract of land on Lanier Drive, that includes the Stadium Place apartment complex, hopes to rezone the property for commercial retail purposes and clear room for two buildings to serve as a strip shopping center.
    Approximately 35 apartment units would be removed to make way for any incoming restaurants and retailers.
    “The units currently on the property are marginal units that have reached the end of their useful life cycles in my opinion,” Parker said. “And that intersection bodes well for a commercial project. So I think this is a win-win for the city and for everyone in that neighborhood.”
    “I speculate that the owner will look for a restaurant or two and maybe a coffee shop to go in the center,” he said. “There is a lot of potential for developing a very good project.”
    Statesboro’s Department of Community Development and the city’s planning commission have issued recommendations for both amendments.
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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