story by julie hales
Effingham County native, LaMeisha Hunter Kelly, serves as the City Planner/Director of Planning and Development Services for the City of Rincon. In the past, Rincon has had a Planning and Zoning Department. In Kelly’s words, “We have evolved from that, we are now called Planning and Development Services.
She and her staff handle all building and zoning needs, business licenses and special events planning.
Kelly is very excited about the commercial activity we are seeing here in Rincon that she feels will be spurred by the new Kroger project. She says, “This is a very unique project, in that it is the first of its kind in this area. So, now when Kroger goes to places like Statesboro or Hinesville, they will bring people to Rincon to look at the project here. Rincon will be the showcase.”
“In terms of other property in the area, and other people coming to the area, I am excited about those projects and what they are going to do,” Kelly adds.
Kelly also confirmed that Chik-Fil-A is still coming. They put off construction for the Kroger project to be complete. With the new intersection being installed, they have changed their location to be there, and are still coming to the city.
Kroger is currently marketing the outparcels in front of the new Market Place. They also have a 12,000 square foot commercial building already approved by the city that they will be adding to the side backing up to Tractor Supply. Construction on this project should be starting very soon. Again, Kroger’s marketing department will be handling the rental of these units so the city does not know yet what new businesses will be coming in.
When Kelly was asked, what has the new Kroger done for Rincon, she replied, “What hasn’t it done? It has increased traffic. Most people don’t think the increased traffic is a good thing, but when you want growth, increased traffic is one of the things that comes with it. We do ask our citizens to be patient. We are in process of making our traffic flow easier.”
Kelly adds, ”When people talk about the number of cars and trucks we now have on 21, that’s good news to me. That means activity. That means people are spending money in Rincon and Effingham County. That means sales tax. That means ESPLOST. It’s all money that is coming back to the taxpayers.”
Commercial growth in our city seems to be inevitable. “Rincon is small, but it has big city issues. But, at the same time, it has big city potential,” states Kelly.
“When you have a big company like Kroger coming in, it brings other companies with it. That’s called opportunity. We have a lot of older buildings in Rincon. I am excited to see the next phase, redevelopment. We may see some of the older buildings being torn down and new structures going up. We also have older buildings with good bones and decent sized lots. I see those buildings being refurbished and put back to use. I am very excited about redevelopment in general.”
Residential growth is also something always on the front burner for the Planning and Development Services of the city. “Residential is steady. Even during the recession, we still had permits coming in. The biggest issue we face is the fact that we only have a limited amount of space. So, at the rate of growth, and the buildable lots we have available, we have about five years before we build out,” states Kelly, “We do have numerous lots left inside subdivisions that we are actively recruiting developers for. We want to make sure we always have areas for continued residential growth.”
With an estimated build out in five years, where does the growth come from later? Kelly says, “Annex. Annexation has been on our mind for the last 3-4 years. We have an Annexation Master Plan. We need to know where we are going and how we are going to get there.”
With Kelly in charge of Planning and Development, it is evident that the City of Rincon’s development plans are in good hands.