Long-time residents in Port Wentworth ask city council to have land rezoned to industrial

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 10:57 PM EST
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PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) - The City of Port Wentworth is still in the middle of an industrial moratorium, but some residents say the damage of development has already been done.

Well-known farmers in the city, Promised Land and Hester Farms, were the first to say they wanted to be rezoned in October. Now it seems they have much of the community behind them and a contractor with a familiar face in the city.

“I am officially requesting my property be rezoned from RA to industrial,” said a resident speaking on behalf of her mother.

“Promised Land Farms…we need that rezoned industrial,” said Willie Johnson with Promised Land Farms.

Another resident said, “we’re here to have our property rezoned industrial.”

One by one, residents from Monteith and Meinhard told Port Wentworth city council members they want their land rezoned. Something they’ve fought against for decades — now, they see it as the only way they can get out with some of a return on their investment.

The Hester family has been a big part of getting many of the residents on the same page.

“My family has been in Port Wentworth before it was Port Wentworth - 151 years. Not to mention a number of the families tonight you’ll be hearing from. Opportunity to bring our heritage in and keep in permanent while change happens around us that are inescapable,” said Hannah Hester, who’s family owns Hester Farms.

This community isn’t far from industrial development off Hendley Road.

“Monteith was our sanctuary. Our home. A place where decades has gone by of living on our lane and generations were born. I say it was our sanctuary because despite objections I made during council and others who objected in the community, warehouses are literally in our backyard,” a resident said.

“The fact is warehouses on Hendley Road are there. Their quality of life has declined and I’m working directly with them not only to get their property rezoned industrial, but bringing in a development team to develop those properties. I am the contract person for many of those properties,” said LaRay Benton, a former resident who grew up in the area.

A townhall has been discussed and they’re inviting council to the table to talk about next steps.

Port Wentworth has an active moratorium in place against industrial rezoning until March so this is something to think about when it expires.

WTOC asked the mayor after the meeting what he thought of the presentation. He said they need to stand behind the residents and it would probably help them be better off in the future.

He plans to get involved in any town halls.