Bloomingdale council: City 'not open for business' for warehouse, apartment development

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Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Bloomingdale's city council approved an eight-month moratorium on industrial and multifamily zoning applications during Thursday night's council meeting.

The moratorium, effective immediately, will bar any developers from submitting applications that fall under industrial or multifamily builds such as warehouses, apartment complexes and condominiums.

Existing applications won't be affected. City Administrator Charles Akridge said there are about 30 warehouses that have been approved and are waiting to be built. Two multifamily applications for complexes to be built south of Interstate 16 are being considered.

Bloomingdale mayor Dennis Baxter said the hold is so that the city can properly assess their infrastructure capacity and zoning needs. When first elected into office, Baxter said his main priority is making sure the city is balanced.

"That means you can't have one type of zoning ... you need a healthy city," said Baxter.

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Credit: City of Bloomingdale

Credit: City of Bloomingdale

Bloomingdale is made up largely of residential-agricultural land but is experiencing more commercial growth along the U.S. 80 corridor. Most of the industrial building is located south of the Georgia Central Railway in the southern portion of the city.

Rapid growth in West Chatham has prompted Bloomingdale to take a measured approach in their own city, according to Baxter.

"We need to consider residents' needs," he said.

The city has a population of about 2,800 residents and 1,320 housing units.

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Credit: Courtesy of Dennis Baxter

Credit: Courtesy of Dennis Baxter

Concerns also stem from water and sewer capacity. Bloomingdale currently has a water draw down rate of about 30,000 gallons per day. In 2025, when the Environmental Protection Agency reassess rates, that is most likely to go down, an issue for other Chatham County cities as well.

"We have a limited amount of water and sewer north of I-16," said Baxter.

Making sure the necessary water and sewer infrastructure is in place before homes are built is crucial, Baxter notes.

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Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

However, a representative from the Savannah Area Realtors said the pause on industrial and multifamily zoning applications is going to harm economic growth.

"Because of the economic impact of some of these multifamily developments and these industrial developments, there's a lot of money at play," said Cody Jones, government affairs director for the Savannah Area Realtors and the Savannah Multi-list Corporation.

Jones said because this was a zoning issue, more public notice should have been given before the meeting. City council members said they would be looking into the notice requirements.

"The housing market has largely been the economic engine in the state of Georgia and here in Savannah locally," said Jones, "Bloomingdale basically just said 'Where multifamily is concerned we're not open for business'."

Baxter said that the moratorium could end sooner than eight months if they're able to make the proper assessments before then.

Nancy Guan is the general assignment reporter covering Chatham County municipalities. Reach her at nguan@gannett.com or on Twitter @nancyguann.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Bloomingdale council: City 'not open for business' for warehouse, apartment development