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Statesboro trying to lure development
City offering incentives that include water and sewer infrastructure
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When Statesboro started its subdivision incentive program in December 2001, the city was having trouble attracting developers to build residential housing inside the city limits.
    Developers, it seemed, were choosing to build outside the city limits, where they didn't have to install water and sewer lines, which add considerable cost to developments.
    In the incentive program, the city pays to install the water and sewer lines inside the subdivision, as well as a portion of the cost of sidewalks, curb and gutter and the engineering costs. Then, depending on the size of the lots, when they are sold, the developer pays the city back some of the cost.
    When all the lots are sold, the developer will have paid back half the cost of the infrastructure costs incurred for the development. To qualify, the subdivisions must be zoned R-15 or R-20, meaning they have 15,000 or 20,000 square foot lots.
    "What we found was that it was cheaper for a developer to build in the county than it was to develop R-15 and R-20 lots inside the city," said Statesboro City Manager George Wood. "The primary purpose is to encourage higher end, single family residential development inside the city."
    Several subdivisions, including Moss Creek, Pepperidge, Myrtle Crossing and In the Grove have taken advantage of the program and its become so popular that the city is having to amend it before the requests become more than the city can fund.
    "This year we've seen a greater interest in the program," said Jim Shaw, planning director for the city. "In previous years, we had one request per year, which worked out fine because we had enough funding for it. This year there are three that are interested that we know of."
    As a result of the program's popularity, the Statesboro City Council approved changes to the program to ensure it has enough funding.
    "If demand is outstripping our ability to pay, we need to make some changes to it," Wood said.
    Shaw said the changes will give the city a chance to be "more picky" when it comes to selecting which developments to participate in.
    "We'll do a cost-benefit analysis and see the relative cost for each development so we're not paying a lot more for one development than another," Shaw said.
    Shaw said he thinks the new criteria are necessary if the city wants to continue the program. With several applications coming in each year, the city needs to be able to pick the best ones, he said.
    Wood agreed, saying they can't afford to do several projects are year and the criteria approved by the council will allow them to rank the projects that are in the city's best interest to participate in.
    "By putting it in the ordinance, it does allow people interested in it to know what the criteria are up front," Shaw said.
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