After an extensive discussion with developers and the public, Pooler Planning Commissioners on Monday recommended that the City Council approve a site plan for a new Publix at the Savannah Quarters community — with some conditions.
The site plan for the Publix goes on to the City Council with the recommendation for approval, as long as developers of the grocery address any remaining engineering comments, conduct a traffic study and come up with an agreement for the future maintenance of a private street called Westbrook Lane.
The planning commission’s consideration of the documents Monday marked the third time in as many weeks that Pooler officials had discussed the forthcoming grocery store.
Leading up to this week’s discussion of the site and landscape plans, both the planning commission and the Pooler City Council had signed off on a performance bond and major subdivision plat for the Publix in the southwest quadrant of Savannah Quarters at meetings earlier this month.
Those earlier meetings indicated that some residents of the Savannah Quarters community weren’t entirely pleased with the plans for the store as presented. Speaking to the City Council on April 18, two local residents objected to a proposal that would allow for commercial traffic to the Publix to use Westbrook Lane as a point of access.
Although they were told by city officials at the time the issue is a civil matter and that the City Council couldn’t intervene, a representative of Savannah Quarters, Richard Phillips, reported at the meeting that it was the company’s intent to address the concerns of the residents.
Phillips reported this week that while access from Westbrook Lane “is essential for Publix,” he has already worked to head off some of the concerns of nearby residents.
Already, he said, his company has worked with Publix to create an agreement for the grocery to contribute to the community’s reserves for future maintenance of Westbrook Lane.
He said future advertising and signs will advertise the location of the grocery store as Blue Moon Crossing. Past experience of similar businesses has shown that most customers of Publix visit on their way home from work. In this case, Phillips said, most shoppers will be coming to the store from Interstate 16, where they’ll encounter Blue Moon Crossing first.
He added there are plans to install a traffic signal on Blue Moon Crossing in the future, and potentially, traffic calming devices along Westbrook Lane to discourage non-residential traffic.
The response from the public was mixed.
A commercial property owner at Savannah Quarters who lives in the Westbrook community said he fully supports the construction of the Publix. The city’s existing Publix has been a good addition to the city, he said, and it sounded as if the plans to mitigate the traffic were reasonable.
But despite the company’s existing track record in the city, Savannah Quarters resident Jim Anderson said he thought the store was too big for the area.
“My wife and I are complete customers of Publix. I think it’s a wonderful business,” Anderson said. “But it seems to be a large commercial operation for the area we’re talking about here.”
In addition to the recommended approval of the site plan with caveats, the planning commission also approved a landscape plan for the Publix development. Hal Kraft of Hussey Gay Bell, a representative of the developer, said the plan conforms not only to the city’s landscape regulations, but the more stringent requirements of Publix corporate.
In other business Monday, the planning commission:
• Signed off on a review of the final plat for the expansion of Bethel Cemetery on Little Neck Road.
• Voted to recommend approval of the recombination of two parcels on the Reynolds Dairy Tract on Raymond Road. The combination will create one 3.03 acre lot.
• Voted to recommend approval of the site and landscape plans for a Dunkin Donuts at 103 Canal St., the site of the former Cancun restaurant.