I have been closely watching the development projects in Hardeeville. The flood gates are opening up for massive home building and rentals, especially on the east side of Argent Blvd. opposite Sun City’s Sgt. William Jasper Blvd. entrance/exit, and along Hwy. 170 (Okatie Highway) from the north end of Argent Blvd. heading southwest toward Fording Island Road. 

I keep wondering how long this massive clear-cutting of trees and displacing of natural wildlife can be sustained. And the question that I ask (and have yet to hear any elected official answer) is, “How much water can the Savannah River supply to South Carolina and Georgia?” 

One would think that there would be regional concerns about this, and that government leaders would be talking to each other about it. 

The City of Hardeeville had two public hearings Feb. 2 on two major development projects within approximately a half mile of each other, proposing more than 800 rental units between the two of them. I spent about four hours at these hearings and made the following statement toward the end when the mayor called for public comments:

My issue here is with development and this mad rush to build a glut of houses and rental apartments concentrated in a small area of Hardeeville, AND if there is sufficient infrastructure to support it.

Let’s take water, for example.

Rapidly developing areas of Georgia and South Carolina rely on the Savannah River to provide clean drinking water, to flush toilets, to irrigate our properties, and so much more. Will there be enough to go around in the future?

Or is it: Build first … and find out later?

What about the traffic on an already overcrowded and dangerous Okatie Highway? If you put a hundred traffic lights on 170, it does nothing to reduce the volume.

Instead of encouraging alternative means of transportation (like bicycles, walking paths, etc.), in the public areas outside of private developments (for real inter-connectivity), it seems as if some of our elected officials are okay with increasing our dependency on cars.

The “Share the Road” signs on Okatie Highway are a joke. Riding a bicycle on 170 or 278 or on Argent Blvd. is like a death sentence.

The conditions that existed 10, 20, or 30 years ago were a lot different than they are today. And present circumstances should be what government approvals are based upon.

Will there be a need for more police, fire, and EMS workers … and facilities for same? Will the developers pay for their salaries and benefits?

Can private sanitation handle this growth?

When I asked about school impacts, I was told that this is not a concern down here. Huh?

I will send this statement to the Bluffton Sun for publishing – hopefully, on the same page where Mayor Sulka once reported that developers own more than 90% of Bluffton.

And if I had any drawing talent, I would include a cartoon of our elected officials with their hands bound, watching developer equipment rip out thousands of trees with fleeing wildlife. The caption would read something like: “Look! Our hands are tied!”

Gene Ceccrelli is a resident of Okatie.