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Pooler City Council turns down rezone for luxury apartments

Pooler City Council members on Monday turned down a request that would allow for the construction of nearly 250 luxury apartments near the intersection of Pine Barren Road and Pooler Parkway.

It was the second time council members said no to the proposal from petitioner Pooler Parkway LLC to rezone about 16 acres from heavy commercial to multifamily residential. In December, council members turned down a similar request from the petitioner.

In the latest proposal, the petitioner changed its requested new zoning designation from the more dense R-3C multifamily zoning to an R-3B. Under the R-3B designation, the developer would have been capped at 16 residential units per acre.

In addition, developers in the second request took heed of concerns about traffic that were cited at the first attempt, and revised the plan to prohibit vehicle access to the apartment complex from Pine Barren Road. Developers suggested that residents would instead use a connecting road that comes out at the traffic light near the Lowe’s on Pooler Parkway.

Speaking on behalf of the developer Monday, C.J. Chance of Hussey Gay Bell said the multifamily residential rezoning would create less new traffic than whatever could be built under the existing commercial zone. Among the types of business allowed under heavy commercial, he said, are big box retailers, restaurants and motels.

“Understand ... with commercial zoning, you’ll have way more traffic than with multifamily,” Chance said.

But those changes weren’t enough to satisfy the council. Just before making a motion to deny the request, Councilman Ashley Brown said that the concerns about traffic listed by council members and nearby residents in December haven’t changed in the intervening months.

City Manager Robbie Byrd described the council’s denial of the request Monday as part of a stance the city’s elected officials have taken regarding rezoning for new multifamily developments.

At present, the population of Pooler is nearly evenly divided between single-family and multifamily residential properties. It seems, he said, that the council would be receptive to allowing for new multifamily developments where such a zoning already exists, but it would not rezone to accommodate more of these developments.

In other business, the council:

• Signed off on the final plat for The Fairways, Phase 17.

• Approved the preliminary construction plans for Davenport, Phase 2 and Somersby, Phase III.

• Voted in favor of a major subdivision plat for Westbrook, Phase 9B.

• Accepted the performance bond and approved the final plat for the Hunt Club, Phase 5.

• Approved site plans for an expansion of a truck parking lot at 125 Distribution Drive, and for a La-Z-Boy furniture store on Traders Way.

• Awarded the city’s annual roadside mowing contract to Pooler-based Kerby Enterprises for $206,954.83.

• Recognized 6-year-old Derrick Chisholm II, who was recently named Mayor for the Day in the Pooler.

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