Liberty Co. Commission submits amendments for comprehensive plan for rezoning near exit 76 in Midway

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:11 PM EST
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LIBERTY COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Liberty County leaders say industrializing off of Islands Highway in Midway has been a goal of the county’s, and now the comprehensive plan is on its way to mirroring that goal.

However, people who live here in the area say they still feel that their concerns haven’t been addressed.

These friends and neighbors all live down Islands Highway and have been making noise over industrial rezoning off of Exit 76 for months.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and not getting better results, and I feel like that’s what’s happened,” said Ashley Mosier, who lives in Midway.

The county has rezoned several portions of land from agricultural to industrial in past months, each time, with these residents voicing their concerns.

“I will say in the last couple of years there’s been a tremendous increase in traffic,” said Nancy Maier, who lives on Colonel’s Island.

“We have standing water. Our yard gets flooded, especially when it rains heavy, the water sits there, it takes longer now for that water to go away,” said Lona Williams and Loreen Ryan, who live in Midway.

Previously, the county’s comprehensive plan had much of the area off of Exit 76 planned for agriculture. Now, the county has submitted their plan to the state’s Coastal Regional Commission amending it to allow for industrial growth – the blue and gray areas on the map show the areas now considered for development.

Jeff Ricketson, Executive Director of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, says developing the area is important to diversify the county’s economy.

“That’s the area that we have to sell to the world. In order to take advantage of that, and maximize the tax base, we need to allow for a reasonable area around exit 76 to be developed,” said Ricketson.

The plan, with amendments, puts a boundary on industrial rezoning about two and a half miles from the exit. Ricketson says the county won’t rezone past that.

“Based on everything, I’ve had a pretty good seat in this process, I would interpret what’s happened as a promise to the residents that the two and a half mile limit is pretty reliable.”

Still, many residents say they’re not convinced.

“I was told as long as this board was in place, we’ll never go further. But what happens when a new board is put in place? That’s always a possibility,” said Marcie Hamilton, who lives on Colonel’s Island.

Now that the plan has been submitted to the state, Ricketson says they should send it back to the county commission in February.

Ricketson says he anticipates the county commission voting on the final version of the amended comprehensive plan sometime in March.