In other business
Statesboro City Council took the following actions Tuesday:
Recognized sanitation supervisor Billy Sandifer as Employee of the Month
Granted alcohol licenses to 119 Chops, 30 W. Main St.; 40 East Grill, 40 E. Main St.; and Mr. Omelette’s Midtown Café, 441 S. Main St.
Approved the purchase of a landfill compactor to Yancey Caterpillar at the bid price of $420,510
Approved first reading of an ordinance to amend the city’s retirement plan to exclude part-time firefighters
Discussed raising yard-waste collection fees. A formal proposal might come at the next council meeting.
An attempt to convert a former business property into a potential apartment complex failed Tuesday morning.
Akins Family LLP requested that 1.67 acres at 520 Park Ave. be rezoned from light industrial to R4, the highest-density residential zoning in Statesboro, which allows for apartment complexes.
City Council members unanimously rejected the request after hearing from residents of the surrounding neighborhood, which is mostly made up of single-family homes. There is a property with duplexes next to 520 Park Ave., and Claude Howard Lumber Company Inc. is across Stillwell Street from it.
Council’s decision during a regular meeting in City Hall countered a unanimous recommendation by the Planning Commission, and a city staff recommendation, that the rezoning be approved.
About 30 people attended the council meeting specifically for the rezoning request, and most opposed it. Councilman John Riggs said he had received many phone calls from residents who were against the move.
Mayor Pro Tem Will Britt, whose district includes the property in question, said he would have supported rezoning it to R3, which is less dense and is the same zoning as the nearby duplexes.
“I don’t understand the staff’s reasoning for recommending it, and I am disappointed with the Planning Commission approving it 5-0,” he said. “I believe the promise of the (Akins) family, but the plan we have shows us 12 units on 1.67 acres, which is high density.”
Paul Akins, who founded Paul S. Akins Company Inc. in 1968 at 520 Park Ave., said his intention was to start with three single-story apartment buildings. (The contracting business has moved to the Market District on Brampton Avenue.) Only after a number of years, if the apartments were successful, would more be added, he said.
Akins agreed with Arthur Howard, the owner of Howard Lumber, that the lumber yard and Akins’ general contracting business were there first, and the neighborhood grew up around them. Akins’ property currently is used as storage for construction materials and has a mobile home, an office trailer, a small office building and several shipping containers.
Howard expressed concern that if the apartments were built and drew families with young children and teenagers, the potential for accidents would grow because of the high number of logging trucks — more than 100 — that come and go daily from his business. Howard noted that he and his brother also are longtime homeowners in the neighborhood.
“We were close growing up,” Howard said of Akins. “It’s a tough situation. … I hope we remain friends. This is just a business decision.”
Other residents said they feared a large increase in traffic with an apartment complex.
Local attorney Laura Marsh, who represents some of the neighborhood’s residents, said that while she, too, believes Akins does not intend to have a large number of apartments, there is no guarantee that a future owner of the property wouldn’t build to the limit the R4 zoning allows.
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9434.