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State recognizes Port Wentworth’s comprehensive plan, city manager looking to the future

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 11:44 PM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 11:48 PM EDT
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PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) - The City of Port Wentworth’s comprehensive plan is officially recognized by the state of Georgia.

This follows a WTOC Investigates story two months ago that made the city aware that they missed a critical step in the process.

Just over a month ago, the City of Port Wentworth adopted their comprehensive plan.

The plan has to be done every five years as it serves as the foundation for zoning and land use in the city, but it wasn’t recognized by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs because the city missed the final step. Since Port Wentworth didn’t complete the process, they were at risk of losing state and federal grant funding.

Now that they’ve finalized it, Port Wentworth is moving forward with development and addressing infrastructure concerns in the community.

A 138-page plan on DCA’s website shows that plan is now finalized and approved.

“I think we need to go further than just the comprehensive plan, which is a land use plan. I think we need to look at transportation. It’s a big issue here with congestion,” said Steve Davis, Port Wentworth’s city manager.

That’s one of the priorities for City Manager Steve Davis who officially assumed office two weeks ago after serving as interim for two months.

Davis also confirmed an audit into the city’s finances will happen within the next couple of months.

If you remember, we reported two months ago that the city was at least $150,000 behind in key bills that kept the city running even though the money was there.

“We can really look at what happened make sure there wasn’t any foul play or anything to that to effect. We haven’t found any evidence to that effect other than things weren’t done properly,” Davis said.

Davis said they’re adding a deeper forensic audit to the city’s annual audit in July.

Residents near Saussy and Berrien Rd. said another issue that hasn’t been handled properly is drainage and development issues in their community. It’s something they’ve been trying to get the city to address for years

“I want to show you all how the water drains off the highway into the ditch near Saussy Rd,” said Georgia Benton, who lives and owns land in Port Wentworth.

Georgia Benton and her son said they own 50 percent of land the Saussy Canal flows over down to Black Creek.

“It’s about the Benton family protecting the Benton family, our property and honestly our legacy,” said Laray Benton, who owns land in Port Wentworth.

Davis said he wants to move forward together and repair the relationship between the city and that community.

He said: “It’s a majority Black community there and they feel like the infrastructure hasn’t been addressed to the Black community so we’re going to be looking at that issue.”

The family and community have been documenting the issues for a while and they hope to present it to city officials soon at a neighborhood meeting.

The Benton family said property owners in that community are seeking representation to take legal action against the City of Port Wentworth.

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