Nine citizens have been selected by the Bulloch County Commission to serve on the Zoning Moratorium Committee. They have been charged with helping guide the process of updating the county’s comprehensive land use plan including zoning updates.

They held their first meeting on September 12, 2022. On Monday, September 19, the county held its first Comprehensive Plan Public Hearing. Around 30 citizens attended the meeting to share their concerns and ideas for future growth.

The Zoning Moratorium Committee includes:

  • Roy Thompson, Bulloch Commission Chair
  • Curt Deal, Bulloch Commissioner
  • Anthony Simmons, Bulloch Commissioner
  • Benjy Thompson, CEO of the Bulloch County Development Authority
  • Charles Wilson, Superintendent, Bulloch County Schools
  • Jeanne Anne Marsh, Bulloch Planning and Zoning Commission
  • Charles Chandler, Bulloch Planning and Zoning Commission
  • Wade McElveen, Farmer is S.E. Bulloch
  • Will Groover, Farmer in S.E. Bulloch

Proposed timeline for the Committee

Hyundai and Aspen Aerogels Impact

Hyundai is investing $5.5 billion to build an electric vehicle (EV) plant and EV battery plant on a megasite property located five miles from the Bulloch County line. The plant will employ more than 8,100.

In addition, Aspen Aerogels has begun construction on a 500,000 square feet plant in Bulloch County at I-16 and Highway 301 South, which will initially employ more than 250. This plant will manufacture thermal insulating material used in EV batteries.

With these to plants coming, the county has projected population growth of 5,000 residents above normal growth by 2030 in S.E. Bulloch County. This growth will require more than 2,000 additional housing units to be built in S.E. Bulloch.

This has developers clamoring to purchase land in Southern Bulloch county to begin construction of homes for the inflow of new residents moving to the area.

Because of the demand for land and requested zoning changes to high density property, the Bulloch County Commissioners decided to place a 180 day moratorium on zoning changes in the impacted area. This will give them time to update the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Area impacted by zoning moratorium

Suburban Neighborhood Character Area

Speed-to-market is a term that we are hearing a good bit in this process. This part of Bulloch County is expected to grow at the same pace as the Hyundai facility which is projected to open January 1, 2025. With the water and sewer expansion needed to supply Hyundai, this could potentially open opportunities for developers north of I-16 from Hwy. 67 and along the I-16 corridor through Bulloch. This is projected to happen pretty quickly.

The committee will be looking at the future development map that envisions a water utility district to create a suburban neighborhood character area district.

This will require an update or amendment of the current Comprehensive Plan. The purpose of the proposed comprehensive plan amendment is to amend the future development map that contemplates a new Suburban Neighborhood character area in southeast Bulloch.

In addition, the committee will be charged with code fixes and general zoning changes, including water and sewer plans, which will go into writing the codes.

Four Wells in S.E. Bulloch to provide water

Because the construction site of the Hyundai plant is located in saltwater intrusion zones, this means that an increase in demand on the Floridan aquifer may worsen the water source making it even more salty in that area.

However, Bulloch County is located in the Floridan aquifer’s “green zone,” which has no risk of saltwater intrusion. To provide the amount of water needed for the Hyundai plant, Bulloch County would need to dig four new wells.

Bryan County will be handling the waste treatment for the plant. This new source of water and sewer would allow Bulloch to expand water and sewer into areas of southern Bulloch County.

Funding the $22 million needed for Water and Sewer Expansion

One of the biggest issues with this rapid growth is how to fund the needed expansion of water and sewer. The county has engineers and consultants actively at work in projecting cost for the project. Their early estimate is $22 million for certain water and sewer infrastructure.

Bulloch County has submitted a $9.8 million grant application to the State of Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget for a drinking water grant for communities who are experiencing population growth.

They have also made a $3 million grant request with Senator Raphael Warnock’s office seeking Congressional directed spending.

Bulloch County has set aside ARPA funds to make up the balance of the funding needed for the expansion project.

Partnering with the City of Statesboro

Bulloch County is also in talks with the City of Statesboro to explore options of expanding sewer down Hwy. 67 to the I-16 area. This would open up more opportunity for development along Hwy. 67. This is similar to the partnership to run water, sewer, and natural gas down Hwy. 301 to the industrial park located South of I-16.

This may be a more viable option than building a small wastewater treatment plant, which is projected to cost $20 million for every 1 million daily gallons of wastewater treatment.

Long Range Transportation Plan

The city and the county completed a long range transportation plan over a decade ago in 2009. With this explosive growth, planning for transportation is just as important as water and sewer infrastructure planning. They understand the need to prepare for growth especially in the south end of the county. The City and County have agreed to share in funding this plan with a commitment of $200,000 each. They jointly made a request from GDOT for funding for this study but were not successful. They are working on an RFP for the plan update.

Professional help with advocacy

Bulloch County has made a commitment to a robust state and federal advocacy program this year. The have entered into a contract with Troutman Pepper Strategies, who now has a team dedicated to Bulloch County issues. They have a state and federal team who will monitor and assist with advocacy issues. They will also help the county form a state and federal legislative agenda dealing primarily with appropriations. In addition, the county is working with Senator Billy Hickman to get a legislative body together to review appropriations applications by the county.

Website to update zoning moratorium progress

James Pope, Planning and Zoning director for Bulloch County has created a web page on the county’s website to allow citizens a way to easily follow the Zoning Moratorium Committee progress and other public information. The web page will include interim reports of the committee.

Click here to view the page.

Bulloch Zoning Moratorium Committee Presentation

Below is the powerpoint presentation which was presented at the first meeting.

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...