In anticipation of Hyundai, Effingham halts future developments to ‘get organized for growth’

Credit: Effingham County Commission

Credit: Effingham County Commission

Before Hyundai Motor Group announced they would invest $5.5 billion into an EV plant in Ellabell, officials in Effingham County were already preparing for what will be unprecedented growth in the coming years. But the automaker is expected to draw thousands of laborers to the area, which means even more rooftops in Effingham County.

In May, Effingham County Chairman of Commissioners Wesley Corbitt issued a moratorium, preventing future developments until they can get a handle on key additions for the county, such as adding a new water and sewer system.

Corbitt says the county needs to “get organized for growth” before they can move forward.

“We certainly want growth, but we want to make sure that if we add 5,000 homes, that we have good transportation and good public safety,” said Corbitt. “And then you want to make sure those neighborhoods have green space for children to play, sidewalks and make sure they are all planned and have good drainage. If you go too fast, you may find that you have drainage issues, safety issues. Then you have 3,000 cars going down a road that cannot handle it. Now, it's a $20 million fix to build a road that can handle that kind of traffic.”

Effingham County has tripled in size since Corbitt moved there more than four decades ago. The county is relying on their master plan to examine and make way for major improvements, such as where apartments and density should be.

“I have been here for 45 years, so we have some planning to do,” said Corbitt.

Credit: Photo by Rick Lott

Credit: Photo by Rick Lott

‘Finding the right balance’

Effingham County has become a hub for industrial growth with businesses like Georgia Pacific, Edwards Interiors Inc. and Sampco.

But Corbitt wants to slow down on adding new manufacturers to protect taxpayers, adding that he would like to see more restaurants in Rincon as many residents flock to Pooler to eat at their favorite chains.

“Personally, I don't want to see us expand anymore,” said Corbitt. “We have a lot of industrial property, about 6,000 acres. I want to kind of encourage the commission to not approve additional industrial land – we need commercial and residential to go along with the 6,000 acres. We need a good balance. Rincon has a good opportunity right now for that. They have Kroger, Walmart and Lowe’s. I think Rincon could handle a Longhorn (Steakhouse). If you go to Longhorns in Pooler, a third of the tags are from Effingham County.”

Credit: Andrew Craft, The Fayetteville Observer

Credit: Andrew Craft, The Fayetteville Observer

Road and sewer improvements

The county is adding several roundabouts, including one at Highway 30 and Hodgeville Road, as well as widening Goshen Road among other small projects.

“Transportation is going to be better in three years, and in five years, it is going to be wonderful,” said Corbitt.

Road improvements will be funded by a $50,000 million budget, courtesy of TSPLOST. “All of this in preparation for Hyundai too,” said Corbitt.

The county is expanding its water and sewer capacity as well. The northern end is supplied by Savannah’s system. Once the county has their own in place, they will continue to rely on the one in Chatham County because Corbitt said two is better than one.

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

“We will never leave Savannah,” said Corbitt. “We're expanding ours from one million gallons a day to three million gallons a day because we're going to need it for the growth.”

Latrice Williams is a general assignment reporter covering Bryan and Effingham County. She can be reached at lwilliams6@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: In anticipation of Hyundai, Effingham halts future developments to ‘get organized for growth’


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