By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
New subdivision opens job to contractors, has $6 million impact
Placeholder Image
  The local construction industry was ecstatic at Tuesday’s city council meeting after learning that plans for a new subdivision on the south side of Statesboro will move forward.
    “It’s prayers answered is what it is,” said general contractor Matt Phillips. “The community, especially the construction industry, has been in terrible shape and we needed a job to come along. We’re thankful to the city for making it happen so we can get this thing built in the timeframe the customer needs it built in. There are a lot of families this project is going to feed.”
    Slated for the east side of Lanier Drive just south of the bypass, the Islands Subdivision will have 70 parcels with 55 duplexes, 13 single-family units and associated common area facilities.
    Phillip’s Construction will handle the general contracting duties for the buildings while Y Delta will handle utilities, Ellis Wood Contracting the roadwork and Millcreek Excavating the site work. The first phase alone should add $6 million to the local economy. It is slated to be completed by the end of July, in time for tenants to move in before the Georgia Southern fall semester.
    Considering all the job responsibilities – framers, roofers, concrete, electrical, plumbing, drywall, masonry, irrigation, landscapers and others – Phillips anticipates the project will employ several hundred people. He plans to spread the work around to local businesses.
    “This is going to help the local suppliers and the local subcontractors,” Phillips said. “That’s just not a selling tactic, I believe in it wholeheartedly. I grew up here my whole life and I’m going to try to help as many people in this town as possible.”
    Before the preliminary plat was approved Tuesday, controversy swirled in the council chambers as Councilmen Will Britt and Travis Chance admonished the developers for trying to circumvent the city’s development guidelines. Joey Maxwell, from Maxwell-Reddick and Associates engineering firm heading up the project for property owner Bill Nguyen, said they were only looking to “fast track” the review process, not get around the required process.
    “We have never asked (the city) to do anything without a permit or without a letter of credit or proper documentation,” Maxwell said. “We’ve asked that the review process be expedited as we sent these (documents) in.”
    Phillips agreed.
    “We didn’t want to do anything that would create a loophole (at the city) for someone else to go through who doesn’t want to do it correctly,” Phillips said. “We absolutely did not want to do that.”
    Both sides admitted there are irregularities in the ordinances and that frequent turnover of city staff over the past few years has resulted in inconsistent enforcement and inconsistent step-by-step analysis of the process. Planning Director Christian Lentz is looking at creating a unified land development code, which will address and correct those inconsistencies, centralize building codes and streamline the development process.
    Hiding in the background but ultimately at the heart of the problem is the general downturn in the entire economy. In April 2008, a preliminary plat and infrastructure agreement was unanimously approved by the council for a subdivision consisting entirely of single-family homes. Due to the existing financial climate, the property owner was unable to obtain funding for the project.
    As a result, the subdivision was re-tooled, adding a number of duplexes and reducing some of the lots sizes in order to increase the profitability of the project and secure the necessary funding. This required the owner to rezone the property, a process which takes, at a minimum, 60 days to complete due to public notification and hearing rules required by the state.
    These requirements pushed back the start date of the project as representatives came before the Planning and Zoning commission in late 2008 and got final zoning approval from council at their first meeting in January. The increased density also necessitated significant changes to the original preliminary plat, the new version of which was approved Tuesday.
    With a letter of credit submitted to the city Wednesday and an infrastructure agreement in the works, construction for the project could begin as early as next week.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter