The Glynn County Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a site plan for a 272-unit apartment complex between Cate Road and I-95.
Called Vintage Brunswick, the project is being developed by Ridge Enterprises, Inc. and Georgia Land Group, Inc. The recently clearcut property is visible from I-95 near exit 38, where the freeway intersects Golden Isles Parkway.
Plans approved on Tuesday call for 272 apartments in 10 buildings served by 512 parking spaces. The site plan also includes a pavilion at the entrance to the complex.
Primary access to the resort will be via Capital Square Drive, which runs from Venture Drive to Perry Lane Road and terminates between La Quinta Inn & Suites and the Waffle House. The developer proposes to extend Capital Square Drive south towards the development site, which abuts the Sandalwood neighborhood.
Plans include an access road between the complex and South Teakwood Court in the adjacent neighborhood, but county planner Maurice Postal said the road would be for emergency vehicles only.
Final approval of the site plan would be contingent on the county’s Department of Community Development approving separate building applications for the Capital Square Drive extension.
Richard Strickland, a member of the MPC, did not see how the roads around the complex could accommodate the new traffic in their current configurations.
“How are you going to handle the traffic putting 272 units out there?” Traffic is already bad on Perry Lane Road,” Strickland said.
Wesley Franks of Roberts Civil Engineering spoke on behalf of the developers.
Franks said the developer was conducting a traffic study to determine how best to manage traffic. One option is to build a new road between Golden Isles Primary School and the neighborhood on East Street to allow direct access to Cate Road. New turning lanes and traffic lights on Perry Lane Road and Cate Road could also be offered as solutions, he said.
Strickland was still unconvinced that this option would be enough to solve traffic problems in the area.
“The only way it will work is if they perry Lane (road) to four lanes,” Strickland said.
He was prepared to approve the plan if the commission’s motion for approval included a condition that the developer be required to complete and submit the traffic plan to the county.
“We’re going to request a traffic study with every phase of (this project) that comes along,” Postal said.
The MPC unanimously approved the site plan on the condition that the Capital Square Drive extension application be approved and the developer be required to submit the traffic plan prior to construction.
MPC members also voted unanimously to approve a 7,200 square foot office and retail building on the corner of Alpine Court and Gateway Center Boulevard, behind Cheddars Scratch Kitchen.
A concept plan indicated that the building would feature construction similar to that of the Monkey Wrench bicycle shop on St. Simons Island.
Franks, who also represented the commercial building’s developer, said his clients were not ready to reveal which business or businesses might occupy the building.
In other business, the MPC has approved an application to rezon a property on the corner of Nix Lane and Granville Nix Lane to allow the construction of four duplexes and a site plan for a commercial warehouse at 128 Peek Road.
The final action item on the commission’s agenda was an amendment to the zoning ordinance to clarify how the county measures the height of buildings in a floodplain.
This would effectively reduce the maximum building height in the Resort Residential Zone, RR, on St. Simons Island from 45 feet to 35 feet. All RR zoned properties are on or immediately adjacent to Ocean Boulevard at the south end of the island.
Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend that the Glynn County Commission reject the amendment due to concerns over whether the amendment would allow buildings destroyed by natural causes to be rebuilt to previous specifications.
The amendment was initiated by Glynn County Commissioner Cap Fendig, who represents St. Simons Island, as a way to reduce potential residential density on the island. Population growth on the island causes major traffic jams that quickly become a public safety issue.
Planning officer Stefanie Lief said the county isn’t sure how many properties will be affected by the zoning change.
MPC member Missy Neu asked how many buildings in the area were taller than 35 feet, which Lief did not know.
County Attorney Aaron Mumford said all buildings taller than 35 feet would be classified as “lawful nonconforming” structures.
“‘Grandfathering-in’ is another term for legal non-compliance,” Mumford said.
Neu said she was supportive of the new restrictions, but also worried that owners of non-compliant buildings could not rebuild to previous specifications if they were lost to an “act of God”, such as fire. Mumford said those concerns have been addressed in changes to previous orders and may be addressed in this one.
As he applauded what Fendig was trying to do, Strickland said he felt like it was a short-term, short-term approach.
“It’s not a band-aid approach,” Fendig said. “It’s something I ran to approach density on the island with a methodical approach. It’s one of many things I’ve studied for many years.
“There are a variety of ways to curb growth on the island so we can enjoy the quality of life.”
He also hopes that new regulations, among others that he plans to introduce to restrict the number of “bedrooms” in a residential building, will also slow the growth of short-term rentals on the island, which he says will contribute significantly to the circulation problem.
“I think it’s a great first step,” Fendig said.
While she doesn’t oppose it in principle, Neu would have liked the amendment to be part of the larger zoning overhaul the county is engaged in with consultant TSW Design.
MPC member Bill Edgy moved a motion to approve the amendment as is, which failed 2-4. Edgy and MPC member Bo Clark voted in favor while Neu, Strickland, chairwoman Sherrye Gibbs and MPC member Darrell Dawson voted against.
A motion to deny passed 4-2, with Clark and Edgy voting against the motion and the other committee members voting in favor.