SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The owners of several tracts of currently undeveloped land, more than 300 acres, are asking the Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission to rezone their land in the Highlands Master Plan area from residential, to light industrial.
The MPC approved all three requests with a 10 to 1 vote. The first was to amend the future land use map.
The second was an amendment to the zoning map, changing the tracts from planned unit development-community to light industrial. The third measure was a master plan amendment.
The requested changes by the land owners have been at the center of debate for Highlands residents, and discussed at a community meeting last week, called by the district's Savannah City Council member, Alderman Van Johnson.
Johnson explained why he thought it important to get his constituents feedback to present at Tuesday's hearing.
"That is among the fastest growing, in not only the state, but definitely in the City of Savannah. It's growing every day. And we have to make sure that those citizens have what they need, and that they're also living very comfortably," said Johnson.
Hundreds of Highlands residents think a change to the zoning could hurt property values and lead to more big truck traffic.
Last week, residents met with MPC officials to voice their concerns, many worried what a light industrial district would do to the livability of the nine neighborhoods within the Highlands.
"We have been told before this is for us, if we don't want it, we don't have to have it. I just ask that you take the 468 to date signatures on the petition to heart. Because these people say no," said Matthew Emmer, Highlands resident opposing rezoning.
But not all Highlands residents are against the rezoning of the land that will likely allow the construction of warehouses within a mile of established neighborhoods if approved by city council.
"What does the public gain, is the question. My response is, I don't think it gains anything. If we don't have the warehouse development, you miss out on port development, jobs, prosperity," said Phillip McCorkle, representing applicant for rezoning.
A petition against the rezoning was circulated with around 450 signatures. The MPC's recommended approval will go before the Savannah City Council in the coming weeks.