'Most residents don't want this': Pembroke proposes 2,000 home development

Residents stood before city council in Pembroke Monday night to express concern over a massive development that they feel could end small town living once and for all.

GSL Cattle Company, LLC has proposed a large-scale project that would see the addition of 2,000 residential units in a mix of homes, townhomes and apartments among retail and other commercial opportunities. “I’m old enough to know what Pooler looked like before growth,” said Jason Quill, an area resident during the public comment section of the meeting. “[Alex Long] said it would have a Bluffton feel. If I wanted to live in Bluffton, I would live there. Most residents do not what this.”

Monday night’s meeting was the first reading of the ordinance. No action was taken by council.

Here is what to know.

The developer has ties to the mayor

Alex Long is photographed.Alex Long is photographed.

Alex Long is photographed.

Lawrence Alexander Long, who previously told the Savannah Morning News he is a “custom home builder”, is listed as the name of the “organizer” for GSL Cattle Company on multiple documents on the Georgia Corporations Division website.

Long ran for County Chairman in Effingham County in May, losing in the General Primary and Non-Partisan General Election to Damon Rahn.

Long’s affiliation with the development has raised some concerns among residents, because Long’s cousin, Sarah McCoy, is the sister-in-law of Pembroke Mayor Tiffany Zeigler and is listed as working in sales on Alex Long’s business website.

Pembroke Mayor Tiffany Zeigler is photographed.Pembroke Mayor Tiffany Zeigler is photographed.

Pembroke Mayor Tiffany Zeigler is photographed.

“I have spoken with our city attorney to verify that there is no conflict of interest in this case,” said Zeigler in a statement she provided the Savannah Morning News in June. “As far as GSL Cattle Company is concerned, I do not know anything about the company other than it is on the PUD document and that is how it was submitted to the city. [Long] has met with both Chris and myself regarding the development as we meet with all developers in the planning process. I have always pledged to live a life with the highest level of integrity and ethics. I will take it a step further and will ensure that I recuse myself from any vote on this matter should there be a tie, so as to prevent any appearance that there is something unethical about the situation.”

During the meeting, Long addressed council to provide his take on how the project would positively impact the community.

“I think we’ve put a lot of thought into the plan before you tonight,” said Long. “We’ve met with engineers for countless hours. We have a little bit of everything. This PUD allows for this to happen. We have mixed use and commercial retail.”

The planned unit development document offers more insight into the planning commission and council’s thoughts regarding the project. It reads in part, “The Warnell Tract development offers an opportunity to act on this goal by providing more houses, brand-new high-quality construction, and a variety of lot sizes within a reasonable driving distance of the downtown area and the Hyundai facility and the related supplier facilities. The development will be built by an experienced home builder utilizing a professional team with a track record of addressing the regulatory challenges that come with housing development in Georgia.”

“No adverse impacts on the immediate area”

The PUD document provides a small glimpse as to what the development on Highway 67 and Sims Road would look like at full build out. The project would make up 547 acres. Of those, 115 acres are wetlands. Maximum density is proposed for 3.7 dwellings per acre and would be sold at multiple price points.

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In all, it is estimated at $500-million-project.

A commercial corridor would be developed along Highway 67 and residential pods would be created throughout transitioning between various “density types”.

The PUD states that the development would have minimal effect to the “immediate area”.

It reads in part, “The most significant effect of the proposed development will be the addition of much needed high quality homes for families to settle in, adding to the supply of housing in the area…after the initial construction traffic is complete, there will be little to no adverse impacts on the immediate area since the use is compatible with the surrounding uses.”

Despite these promises, area residents filled the meeting chamber Monday night to near capacity after expressing their concerns in the most recent planning and zoning meeting’s public comments that this development would upend their quality of life and forever change the nature of the community they call home.

Latrice Williams is a general assignment reporter covering Bryan and Effingham County. She can be reached at lwilliams6@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Pembroke getting one step closer to massive housing development

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