BLOOMINGDALE, Ga. (WSAV) – West Chatham County residents are voicing their concerns about the potential rezoning of land next to their neighborhood.
Off John Carter Road in Bloomingdale sits 630 acres of undeveloped land. It’s owned by the Savannah Economic Development Authority and officials said they intend for it to be a manufacturing park.
Residents who live next to the property said the project is already doing damage to their homes.
“My father is 85 years old and within about three to four weeks of the clearing of this property, we noticed differences in our homes and his septic tank would just pour water into it so we had to drop an actual pump in it to keep it operating,” said Cheryl Sanderlin, a resident for 30 years. “We used to have a lot of wildlife in our front yards, we could sit in that big window there and actually see deer eating in our front yards. We don’t see that anymore.”
Residents like Cheryl, many who have lived in the neighborhood for decades, said they feel blindsided and left out of the conversation.
“With our neighborhood backing up to it, with two schools nearby, with 10,000 more homes coming, we are definitely concerned on whether this is something that will make noise all night long, have lights all night long, continue to cause flooding issues,” Cheryl said.
On Saturday, officials from SEDA met with neighbors for the first time. Residents repeatedly asked why the group is trying to rezone the property from Industrial Light to Industrial Heavy, something they believe will only do more harm.
“Our response to that is to best place this manufacturing center, this Class A industrial manufacturing, to be prime real estate for high-wage jobs,” said Jesse Dillon, vice president for business development at SEDA. “Put us in the best possible competitive situation to attract high wages to the community.”
Dillion added that the organization has no intention to cause harm to neighbors. Residents are also calling for more transparency, claiming they were not properly notified of SEDA’s petition to change the zoning.
“There are three ways to notify property owners,” explained Harold Yellin, an attorney representing SEDA. “Advertising, which we did. Notice to neighbors within 300 feet, which we believe was done. And the signs, which we did according to state zoning procedure law. Notwithstanding that we’ll come back and do it again. If we can find property off-site that doesn’t even belong to us but the property owner says it’s OK, we’d otherwise be trespassing but we’re willing to put additional signs.”
Neighbors and SEDA officials said their meeting was productive and the start of finding a solution to make residents more comfortable.
But still, Cheryl is concerned about what will happen to the quiet, peaceful neighborhood she and her family have called home for 30 years.
“I mean, at a certain point can you sleep at night, will the lights be blaring through your window, will the noise be loud?”, she said. “I mean, at a certain point you have to weigh can you still live there?”
The Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission will take up the rezoning petition at its meeting on September 29th.