Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler told the city council during its July 6 meeting that the proposed Interstate-95 and Belfast Keller Road interchange project was “dead in the water” last fall, due to funding problems.
That prompted the city to hire Steve Croy, principal with the Croy Group LLC, to use his contacts in the state government to get the project back on track, the mayor said.
“Back last fall, I got a call from State Representative Ron Stephens. He wanted to meet with me and County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed. Representative Stephens came in and told us that the interchange project was dead. It wasn’t going anywhere. That was the end of it.
“He said you have one possibility. You can hire Steve Croy as a lobbyist, and with his connections he might be able to bring this about.
“And so the city of Richmond Hill hired the Croy Group and tonight I want to make sure Steve Croy is thanked for his part in that and what he accomplished,” the mayor said.
In a letter of appreciation given to Croy, made available after the meeting, the mayor said Croy’s “team’s tireless efforts to successfully secure $1.5 million in grant assistance and $4 million in GDOT funding for this interchange project” were extremely significant and got the project back on track.
The council then passed a resolution that obligated the city to pay between $1,250,000 and $2,100,000 as its contribution to the interchange funding.
The city’s contribution will “more than likely” be paid out of Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax funds, City Manager Chris Lovell said.
Bryan County, Lovell said, had agreed to similar amounts as its contribution to the project.
• A request for approval of the conditional use for a mini-storage facility in a C-3, general commercial zone at 2940 Hwy. 17. Planning Director Scott Allison told the city council and had required a public hearing June 26. At the moment, no plans or number of units were available, as the council would only be approving the conditional use, with the particulars to follow. The applicant, Stephen Strickland, was not available for the council meeting and the matter was tabled until the first council meeting in August. The vote to table was unanimous.
• The council also considered the preliminary plat for the Brisbon Village Townhomes, which will be located at the intersection of Brisbon Road at Village Pkwy. Because of an apparent business conflict, Councilman Johnny Murphy recused himself from voting on or considering this matter.
“This is part of Brisbon Planned Development that was approved sometime back. If you recall from that approval, there were two multi-family components,” Allison said.
The 1.8 acre project will contain seven units.
“All requirements have been met for the preliminary plat,” the planning director said.
Councilman John Fesperman asked Allison if this project was part of the nearby 51 acres the city bought recently and Allison told him that it was not on the city property and that it was a separate project.
The council unanimously approved the preliminary plat.
• The council approved a landscape plan for the Brisbon Townhome project to be located at Brisbon Road near its intersection with Harris Trail.
Allison said the developer is going to leave as many trees as possible and will supplement any gaps in coverage with red maple, hollies and ligustrum foliage.
“The architectural review board made a recommendation for approval of the plan,” Allison told the council. Councilmen Jan Bass and Fesperman asked about the amenities for the project and Allison told them that trails were the only planned amenity. The small size of the development precluded the typical amenities found in larger developments, Councilman Russ Carpenter said.
“They’re utilizing what they have,” Allison said.
The landscape plan was unanimously approved by the council.
• City Manager Chris Lovell sought council permission to purchase a Bobcat Excavator for $52,622.20. Lovell said the bid from Bobcat of Savannah was the lowest of three bids received, with the highest at $73,900.
After considerable discussion about the appropriateness of the size of the Bobcat to do ditch clean-out in small spaces, as well as helping out with tree and limb removal in the event of a hurricane, the council voted to approve the purchase. The excavator is a budgeted item, Lovell said, and will be paid for out of funds from the storm-water utility.
• Lovell also asked the council to pass a resolution authorizing the issuance of a note not to exceed $10,000,000 to finance an 81-unit senior citizen housing community at 201 Kroger Drive.
Lovell was quick to point out, however, that if the council passed the resolution, it in no way obligated the city to any financial debt. Rather, the resolution was needed by the developer as a public show of support and to adhere to compliance with the provisions of the state code and laws of the State of Georgia and would not financially obligate the city.
“This is a private development,” Lovell told the council.
The resolution passed unanimously.