Identifying exactly what the town wants has been the guiding force for Hardeeville in Jasper County.
Hardeeville had its development plan in place and was signing development deals as early as 2005, but then the Great Recession came in 2008. Although the town had expanded its boundaries from 5 square miles to 55 square miles, there was not a lot of activity, said Mike Czymbor, Hardeeville city manager.
“The challenge was how do we engage these property owners, developers and break down those barriers to proceed with projects.” Czymbor said.
Just across the state line, the Port of Savannah has plans for expansion, and Hardeeville hopes to be home to port workers. That is why the city is focused on residential developments, which will bring retail, restaurants and entertainment.
The biggest boost on the residential side has been the opening of Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head with plans for 3,000 homes. The resort development, which will have its own “town center,” is geared toward retirees and is located in Hardeeville.
Housing growth has become a common sight in fast-growing Hardeeville.
Photo: City of Hardeeville.
The number of homes planned for that development is about equal to the total number of residents in Hardeeville recorded in the 2010 census. Czymbor expects the 2020 count will show about 8,500 residents, and estimates that number will triple in the next 10 years. That growth means the city has to make sure it has the infrastructure to handle the needs of new residents and businesses.
“We annually talk to all these development agreement holders and get their best guess for their development schedule,” Czymbor said. “Then we use that base to decide where do we need another fire station, how many police officers do we need to hire, how many building officials, planning people, how many public works employees.”
That input each year is used to update the city’s planning document to keep up with the growth.
Planning Director Brana Snowden said the city has partnerships with the SC Department of Transportation and its water and sewer providers who all work together with the developers to lay the infrastructure groundwork for growth.
“We have almost weekly conversations with them,” she said.
Deputy City Manager Matt Davis said a big part of the city’s role is to mitigate the impact of development. As the city finds itself competing with surrounding areas — even some locations in Georgia — for business, it has to be mindful of the cost of growth.
“Fifteen years ago, any growth was good,” Davis said. “Not anymore. It needs to be the right kind of growth.”
In several parts of the state, growth has become a common challenge and opportunity — one that cities can meet with careful attention to planning and infrastructure.
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