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City Council Wrap-Up: New Hampstead development moves closer to reality
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The long-awaited and ambitious New Hampstead planned development in West Chatham got one step closer to becoming reality at today's City Council meeting, as a zoning text amendment was approved.

First envisioned in 2005 when the property was annexed by the City of Savannah, the proposed Planned Unit Development is set to include residential, multi-use, institutional, and public park components.

"We've been discussing lack of housing," remarked Alderwoman Estella Shabazz, in whose district New Hampstead will reside. "We are moving forward converting almost 900 acres of property into single family residential areas, institutional areas, multi-family, village areas that include parks, on the Westside of Savannah... there are great things that are going to be happening fromn Little Neck Road to Ft. Argyle Road."

A large development at Montgomery Crossroad and Truman Parkway, across from Sam's Club, was approved. The owner will remove current apartments to make way for retail/commercial development.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach warned again of what he calls a need to restrict zoning changes to individual petitioners, to avoid the phenomenon of one developer securing a change in zoning for one project, then selling the parcel to another developer who can then take advantage of the zoning change for a completely different type of development.

The issue revealed a fault line on Council, with Alderman Van Johnson generally supportive of the Mayor's position, but Aldermen Julian Miller and John Hall more in favor of allowing free enterprise.

Council voted to expand the Mid-City zoning area to include corridors on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Montgomery Street currently in a "gap area" between existing historic district designations.

Other zoning and planning issues on today's agenda were continued forward to later meetings to allow further discussion.

A residential development planned for the former Diocese of Savannah building at 601 E. Liberty St. was delayed to clarify zoning changes to bring density allowances in line with the Historic District. The building is located right across East Broad from the border of the Historic District, and thus technically not a part of it.

The development of the surplus city lot at 415 E. Oglethorpe was again delayed, pending an agreement to restore the existence of East Oglethorpe Lane to the parcel.

The City formally adopted the recommended Legislative Agenda, its wish list for the upcoming session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Top items on the Agenda include supporting home rule for purposes of regulating Short Term Vacation Rentals; securing state funding for the Logistics Technology Corridor; lobbying for a state Earned Income Credit; and allowing local governments to destroy confiscated firearms (state law currently mandates auctioning off confiscated guns).