Mainland Planning Commissioners recommended approval Tuesday of a rezoning request over the protests of residents of a nearby neighborhood.

The owner of the property at 725 Harry Driggers Blvd., between the Carriage Gate Plantation and Shell Pointe neighborhoods, wanted the property’s planned development text amended to allow surface mining on 86 of its 443 acres.

Charles Ezelle, with Thomas and Hutton engineering firm, said the owner would essentially be operating a borrow pit. Dirt and sand would be dug up with excavators and hauled with dump trucks to mostly local construction sites.

A Department of Natural Resources permit allowed the owner to conduct the borrow pit operation for eight years, and only on 86 acres of the property.

Holes left by the operation would likely be used as lakes in a future housing development, Ezelle added. Depending on how the housing market does, construction of a development there may start within the next eight years.

Residents of the nearby neighborhood spoke against the rezoning. Most took issue with the expected 75 trucks a day traveling in and out of the property and noted the effects that could have on traffic and the nearby Needwood Middle School and C.B. Greer Elementary School.

Victoria Fennel, a Carriage Gate resident, said she had a documented allergy to smoke, and that the owner would likely burn the stumps of trees he cuts down in the process of setting up the borrow pit.

Ezelle responded, saying if there were any burning, county and DNR regulations would require them to filter the smoke so that it wouldn’t impact nearby residences.

To address concerns with the school zone, MPC member Tim Murphy added a condition to the approval, stipulating that dump trucks full of sand would not be allowed to drive through school zones on Harry Driggers Boulevard while school zone warning signs are active.

One member of the public said the trucks would have to drive down that road to see the signs, but MPC member Larissa Harris said county staff or the applicant could find out the time frame during which the signs are activated.

Planning and zoning staff recommended another condition, which would terminate the county’s approval of the surface mining operation when the developer’s DNR permit expires.

The MPC voted 4-0 to recommend the Glynn County Commission approve the rezoning with both conditions.

In other business, the MPC failed to pass a motion on a proposed St. Simons Island tree ordinance. The ordinance would only apply to the island.

There were not enough members present to make a recommendation, as any motion would need four votes to pass. MPC Chairman Gary Nevill said he would not vote in favor of the ordinance, citing concerns with protecting property rights.

MPC members agreed to hold a special called meeting at noon today in the second floor on the Harold Pate Building, 1725 Reynolds St. in Brunswick.

A rezoning application for the Vansh Corner property at the corner of Old Jesup Road and Community Road was withdrawn at the request of the applicant. MPC members said they weren’t likely to approve it, as the owner didn’t state a reason the property should be rezoned in his application.

The next regular meeting of the MPC is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug 7 in the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.

More from this section

Charlie Moore has dedicated his life to the art of defense. After more than 30 years as a U.S. Marshal to training as a martial artist, he fully understands the importance of learning to protect oneself as well others.