Statesboro is literally growing by metes and bounds on its east side, with 54 acres annexed effective Aug. 1 on Cawana Road for a developer’s planned creation of lots for approximately 142 single-family houses. Meanwhile, across town on Westside Road, a developer has plans for 78 townhouse units on 11.5 acres.
City Council, by two separate motions approved 3-0 with just that many members present at the July 18 meeting, granted both the Cawana Road annexation requested by landowner Laura Hollingsworth and a request to immediately rezone the annexed 54-acre tract from the default R-40 residential to higher density R-6. That request was from developer Jared O’Sako of homebuilding company D.R. Horton, which has engineering firm Hussey Gay Bell designing the neighborhood layout and infrastructure.
But the Cawana Road annexation occurred with little if any controversy, in contrast to the city’s recent annexation of 37 acres on Beasley Road that first drew neighborhood opposition, then a Superior Court complaint and then a formal objection from the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners. That one had taken from January until June to complete.
After voiding their first attempt at the Beasley Road annexation, city staff members revised their practice in responding to zoning requests from property owners. They notified the county government and Bulloch County Schools sooner, giving county officials the time allowed under state law to file any objections.
“At this time Cawana Road is a county road, and it has been identified in our last Long-Range Transportation Plan as a road that does need improvement to ensure adequate service,” city Planning and Housing Administrator Justin Williams told the council. “One of the issues that came up historically has been the county’s timeframe for objecting to annexation, and their objection timeframe ended on the 14th of July.”
Neither the county nor the school system had objected. Williams noted that the area annexed is a vacant field extending from Cawana all the way to Veterans Memorial Parkway, which it meets on a curve. Developments are proposed to the north and south along Cawana Road, he said. Directly across Cawana to the east is the Sunfield Station subdivision, where homes continue to be built.
R-40 single-family detached house residential zoning is Statesboro’s default zoning for newly annexed property. It refers to a minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet, or nine-tenths of an acre. R-6 zoning has a minimum lot size of about one-seventh of an acre with a minimum width of 60 feet.
Haydon Rollins, an engineer from Hussey Gay Bell, said the currently proposed homes will measure about 1,600 to 2,500 square feet and sell at a “low to high 300s” price point.
Council’s approval of the annexation and zoning change came with conditions recommended by the planning staff, including a requirement for a traffic study. During council’s public hearing, nobody spoke against the annexation or rezoning.
According to calculations by city planning staff, the project as planned could result in $172,020 in water tap fees, $84,600 in sewer tap fees and $112,800 in aid-to-construction fees paid to the city. In addition to these one-time fees, the subdivision is projected to produce an annual $82,434 in property tax revenue to the city when built out.
During that same meeting, the council also approved 3-0 a request from Mitchell Ball to change the zoning of an 11.5-acre site on Westside Road from R-20 single-family residential to R-2 townhouse residential. The Westside Road property was already in the city and did not require annexation.
The 11.5-acre wooded lot was previously attached to the Belle House event venue property, Williams noted.
North of it is a tract now zoned R-6 which Ball previously applied to have rezoned R-2 and then withdrew that request after some objections were heard at a city Planning Commission meeting. But Williams said that property is now expected to remain R-6 while the Westside Road tract, now rezoned to R-2, will remain that.
“The development of this property still requires subdivision approval, so at some point we may have a slight change in the makeup of this project, but it will be required to be zoned to R-2 standards moving forward,” Williams said.
He noted that the current sketch did not connect those two tracts but that the developers want to keep open the possibility of connecting them.
One resident of nearby Quail Run subdivision, Lauretha Best, spoke during the hearing, saying she wants council members to make sure Bell doesn’t turn the previously rezoned R-6 single-family homes subdivision into a higher density townhouse development as well.
“I want to be sure that when you start those townhouses on Westside, it does not move into the R-6 zoning,” Best said.
Another woman asked about the developer’s protections for trees and wildlife. Since Hussey Gay Bell is also doing engineering and design work on the Westside Road subdivision, Rollins responded.
“Any trees that are able to be harvested profitably most likely will be, but it is not the intention of the developer to go through and clearcut the whole site and build back,” he answered.
Rollins said the developer will comply with the city’s tree protection rules and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requirements for wetlands protection.
Later in the same meeting, the three councilmembers approved the city’s sharing in the cost of resurfacing Cawana Road with the Bulloch County government. Which of the two local governments would be responsible for improvements and maintenance on Beasley Road had been a part of the disagreement over the annexation there before it was resolved through a city-county agreement in June.
“The county has bid out the re-pavement of Cawana Road, so part of Cawana Road, some parts of it, is our responsibility,” said City Manager Charles Penny. “And so this is an agreement for us to be able to work together, and instead of us having to go out and bid our own work. … It actually gives us a better deal based on volume.”
On Cawana Road, he noted, the city’s share in the resurfacing cost would be “only $33,000.”
No zoning matters or development policy decisions were on the agenda for this week’s 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, City Council meeting, but some are headed to the next meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 15.