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If you are accused of a crime, the only thing standing between your freedom and a verdict of "guilty" is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Port Wentworth, GA.

Those who have been arrested before know that life in the legal system is no laughing matter. Aside from the imminent ramifications of fines and jail time, any goals you have of bettering yourself and advancing your life could be compromised. Without a trusted attorney by your side, you could face a lifetime of embarrassment and poor employment prospects due to a tarnished criminal record.

The good news? Dennis O'Brien and his team of experienced lawyers in Port Wentworth are ready to clear your name. By retaining the help of a criminal defense attorney early in the legal process, you have a much better chance of securing your freedom and living a life as a productive member of society.

At O'Brien Law Firm PC, our practice was founded to fight for the rights of individuals accused of or charged with a crime. Our team of legal experts is well-equipped to take even the most difficult, contentious cases. From violent felonies to DUI, there is nothing we haven't seen and handled. As a former law enforcement officer, founding attorney Dennis O'Brien knows exactly how much a person can lose if convicted. That's why we work tirelessly to secure a verdict that is favorable for our clients.

Regardless of how serious or minor your case may be, know that we will fight fearlessly on your behalf. You deserve zealous representation - when you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC, you will receive nothing less.

 Drug Lawyer Port Wentworth, GA
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The O'Brien Law Firm PC Difference

Many of our clients are surprised to discover that founding lawyer Dennis O'Brien was a police officer prior to his criminal defense career. As a former Field Training Officer for the Memphis Police Department, he has over two decades of knowledge and experience in the criminal justice system. Dennis truly understands the nuance and complexities involved in a criminal defense case. This rare experience gives Dennis a clear edge in any criminal defense case and gives clients priceless peace of mind when they need it the most. Unlike some criminal defense attorneys in Port Wentworth, Dennis O'Brien and his team believe that every client deserves effective, empathetic legal assistance. While some Port Wentworth criminal defense firms will take weekends off or pass along cases to paralegals, Dennis personally reviews each of his cases. There is no case too small or big for O'Brien Law Firm PC. When you hire our firm, you can rest easy knowing that we will be by your side when the going gets tough.

 Federal Defense Attorney Port Wentworth, GA
Here are just a few reasons why O'Brien Law Firm PC is Port Wentworth's top choice in criminal defense:
  • Vigorous Representation
  • Fierce Dedication to Clients
  • Unmatched Experience
  • Face-to-Face Counsel
  • Prompt Response to Inquiries and Questions
  • Commitment to Defending Your Rights
  • Thorough, Effective Research and Investigation
  • Contact Us or Call: 912-704-5150
 Criminal Defense Law Firms Port Wentworth, GA
Our firm has represented hundreds of criminal defense clients in Port Wentworth and is highly qualified to take your case. Some of our specialties include:

Drug Cases in Port Wentworth, GA

When you are charged with a drug crime in Port Wentworth, it can change your life forever. Georgia imposes very strict punishments for drug offenses. The truth is, it's hard to get your life back on track with a drug charge on your record. Your freedom and way of life could be in the hands of your criminal defense attorney. As such, you need a competent lawyer with years of experience handling drug cases. Leaving your fate in the hands of an incompetent attorney could have long-lasting effects on your family and may result in a conviction.

 Criminal Defense Lawyers Port Wentworth, GA

Consequences for drug crimes in Port Wentworth often include:

  • Jail
  • Prison
  • Heavy fines
  • Community service
  • Court-ordered drug and alcohol counseling
  • Probation or parole
  • Permanent criminal record

While the consequences for a drug crime in Georgia are serious, there's reason to be hopeful: O'Brien Law Firm PC is here to fight for you. Remember - being charged with a drug crime is NOT the same thing as being convicted.

Our stellar team has represented many clients facing numerous drug-related charges. While each situation varies, one constant remains the same for clients facing drug charges: a fear of what lies ahead. At O'Brien Law Firm PC our job is to help you overcome the fear of the unknown. We do so by ensuring you understand your charges, the possible outcomes associated with those charges, and the options you need to consider from a criminal defense standpoint.

With more than a decade of experience as Port Wentworth drug crime attorneys, we have the experience and resources to defend you in court no matter what your charges may be, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Crack
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy

No matter what charge you are facing, our team has the experience and resources to build a comprehensive defense strategy for your drug case in Port Wentworth, GA. Without a criminal defense attorney acting as your advocate, you could be facing very harsh penalties. Here are a few punishments you could be facing for drug crimes in Port Wentworth:

  • Schedule I or Schedule II Drug Possession
    Schedule I or Schedule II Drug Possession:

    Having less than a gram (or one milliliter for liquids) of this type of drug results in a prison term of one to three years. Having four grams or milliliter carries a term of one to eight years.

  • Schedule III, IV, or V Drug Possession
    Schedule III, IV, or V Drug Possession:

    Any substance on this list is punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years.

  • Non-Narcotic Schedule II Drug Possession
    Non-Narcotic Schedule II Drug Possession:

    If you have less than two grams or milliliters of this substance, punishments can be between one year and three years. Having up to four grams or milliliters results in a prison sentence of one to eight years.

  • Possession of Marijuana
    Possession of Marijuana:

    Those who are in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana are subject to a jail sentence of up to 12 months. Fines may be no more than $1,000. Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana can result in a prison term of one to 10 years.

To avoid these life-changing punishments, you must take action now. Contact O'Brien Law Firm today for a consultation about your case.

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 Defense Lawyers Port Wentworth, GA
 Criminal Defense Attorney Port Wentworth, GA

Violent Crime Cases in Port Wentworth, GA

Violent crime offenses in Port Wentworth typically involve some form of bodily harm to another individual, actions committed against an individual's will, or threatening someone with bodily harm. Aggravated violent offenses are more severe charges and often occur when a violent crime is made more serious due to circumstances like deadly weapons.

Much like serious drug cases, violent crimes create an added layer of negativity that follows the accused for the rest of their life. In these cases, even an accusation is enough to cause irreparable damage to a person's reputation. Those convicted of a violent crime face severe penalties that can include years in a correctional facility.

Common crimes of this nature include but are not limited to:
  • Murder
  • Assault with the intent to murder
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Domestic violence
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Carjacking

When you are accused of any of the above crimes, your freedom hangs in the balance. The outcome of your case will determine whether you leave the courtroom with your freedom intact or stripped away to serve time behind bars. Because the punishments for violent crimes are so extreme, you should be seeking legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney in Port Wentworth, GA, as soon as possible. As a former police officer with a long record of positive verdicts in violent crime cases, Dennis O'Brien is well equipped to represent you in court.

Having a criminal defense lawyer by your side is the best way to avoid the serious punishments associated with violent crimes. These punishments usually result in prison time if convicted and include:
Forced rape: 20 years
Armed robbery: Up to 20 years
Simple assault: Up to 12 months
Aggravated assault: 10 to 20 years
Aggravated battery: Up to 20 years
Involuntary manslaughter: One to 20 years
Vehicular homicide Up to 15 years
Murder: Life in prison or the death sentence
Zealous Representation Without Judgement

As a former police officer, Dennis O'Brien has seen the toll it takes on a person when charged with a crime. His time in law enforcement allows him to empathize with his clients who desperately need competent representation. Despite being innocent until proven guilty, accusations are scary, and conviction could be a reality. That is why you must work with a trustworthy criminal defense lawyer in Port Wentworth, GA who will work tirelessly to clear your name.

Clients choose O'Brien Law Firm because we believe in open communication, honesty, and hard work. It is not our job to act as judges for those who have been accused of crimes. Rather, our goal is to find the best defense that allows us to protect our clients' rights and freedoms.

DUI Cases in Port Wentworth, GA

Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common crimes committed in Georgia. Punishments for such a crime can be severe, and for understandable reasons - when a person operates a vehicle while they are intoxicated, they're putting their life and the lives of others at risk.

While DUI is a serious crime that completely upend the accused's life, the earnest desire to end drunk driving can make police officers too eager to catch a person who they believe is under the influence.

 Criminal Defense Law Firm Port Wentworth, GA

The city of Port Wentworth, Georgia, has implemented severe punishments for DUI, even for first-time offenders. Individuals charged with DUI in Port Wentworth could face:

  • Very expensive fines and fees
  • Loss of license
  • Incarceration

Fortunately, if you or someone you love has been charged with DUI, there is hope. This is particularly true when the accused is administered a breath or blood test for DUI. In fact, cases that involve a breath and/or blood test are beaten daily. When you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC, we will dive deep into your DUI case in Port Wentworth and examine every angle possible for your case to be dismissed. Here are just a few questions our team will investigate:

  • Was the stop legal? If not, your case could be dismissed
  • Is there enough evidence or probable cause to arrest you? If not, Dennis O'Brien will file a pre-trial motion and will fight hard to have your case dismissed before trial.
  • Did the police read you your implied consent rights? If not, your case could be thrown out. Failure to read implied consent rights to the accused is one of the most common police errors.
  • Were your blood testing records and breathalyzer results maintained? Breath testing comes with inherent weaknesses that can create doubt in a juror's mind.

There are numerous ways to beat a DUI case in Georgia, from unreliable field sobriety tests to inaccurate state-administered breath tests. As a veteran criminal defense lawyer in Port Wentworth, GA, Dennis O'Brien has the knowledge and experience to expose the state's mistakes and fight for your rights. When you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC your chances of dismissal are greatly increased. When your case is dismissed, you can continue living life without the burden of a criminal record.

 Criminal Justice Attorney Port Wentworth, GA

If you or someone you love is accused of a crime in Port Wentworth, GA, don't leave fate up to the prosecution. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family before it's too late.

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Latest News in Port Wentworth, GA

School Closing Ceremony Held for Port Wentworth Elementary School

On Sunday, May 15, 2022, a Closing Ceremony was held for Port Wentworth Elementary School. Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett and Board members gathered with both current and former staff and students to say farewell to the school that is being phased out at the end of this school year. The Port Wentworth Elementary School has been phased out per the specifications of the Georgia Department of Education and will no longer be available for instructional use. At the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year, the facility will be utilized administrati...

On Sunday, May 15, 2022, a Closing Ceremony was held for Port Wentworth Elementary School. Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett and Board members gathered with both current and former staff and students to say farewell to the school that is being phased out at the end of this school year. The Port Wentworth Elementary School has been phased out per the specifications of the Georgia Department of Education and will no longer be available for instructional use. At the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year, the facility will be utilized administratively to support operational needs identified by the school district.

The history of Port Wentworth Elementary School began with its first location - a building opened in 1917 on North Coastal Highway where the National Wire Company previously operated. The second location was a four-room wood framed building facing Cross-gate Road between Aberfeldy and Turnberry Streets in 1922. Later, a second two-room building was added next to the original structure. During the early forties, a cement block fourteen room building was constructed. In 1958, the six-room brick annex was built. All four buildings were in use most of the time until about 1963 when the wood frame buildings were dismantled.

The final location is the present Port Wentworth, formerly Ormond B. Strong Elementary, at 507 S. Coastal Highway. The land for the first phase of the building was donated to the Board of Education by the Sugar Refinery, so the students who lived in the village at the Sugar Refinery would not have to walk so far to school. The school was named after the Superintendent of Schools at the time, Ormand Butler Strong. In addition, in 1963 the cafeteria was dedicated and named the Kate M. Phillips Cafetorium of Ormond B. Strong School in memory of Kate Mc-Culley Phillips, who served as principal of Port Wentworth from 1927 to 1949. Later, more land was purchased from the Russell family to make the property more than 19 acres.

Port Wentworth and Strong Elementary Schools were both “stand-alone" schools, until 1971 when they became “feeder" schools with one another. (Example: Students attended kindergarten – third grades at Port Wentworth Elementary, and then the same students attended fourth grade at Strong Elementary. In the early 80's, they returned to standalone schools.) During the middle 80's, major renovations took place at Strong Elementary School adding additional wings, a media center (dedicated to the memory of Josey Winbush, a teacher who was one of the first teachers to integrate the school system in Chatham County) and gymnasium in addition to the 2 wings. In 1988, Port Wentworth Elementary closed its doors after 71 years, and Strong Elementary was renamed Port Wentworth Elementary School; thus, serving all the students from both schools.

The historical fabric of Port Wentworth Elementary includes principals: Ms. Kate Phillips, Ms. Evelyn Flanders, Mr. Iler, Ms. Cubbage, Mr. Lain, Dr. Lintini, Mrs. Penny Maestretti, Mrs. Margaret Washington, Mrs. Marva Harris, Mrs. Freida Porzio, Dr. Deborah Jones, Mrs. Julie Newton, Dr. Tamika Minor-Wright, and Dr. T. J'Nai Gilbert-Collins, over 1,000 staff members, and over 30,000 students. The academic needs of students at the school have been enhanced over the years with programs which include but are not limited to Space Stations Learning Centers, Title I, a Remedial Education Program, Early Intervention Program, English Speakers of Other Languages, Gifted Education Program, Pre-School Intervention, Special Needs Kindergarten, Specific Learning Disability, Speech, Hospital Home-bound, Art, Music, Physical Education, Band, Reading Renaissance, After School Tutorials, 21st Century Learning Centers, Junior Achievement, VISTA Volunteers, America's Promise and Savannah's Promise Volunteers, Quick Think-athon, The Westside Connection Business Partners, Inc., Second Step Program, Family Nights, Share Christmas, Pelican Pantry and many, many more.

​​Students from Port Wentworth are being redistricted beginning in the next school year to Garden City Elementary, Brock Elementary and Rice Creek School. See more photos from the closing ceremony here.

State recognizes Port Wentworth’s comprehensive plan, city manager looking to the future

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) - The City of Port Wentworth’s comprehensive plan is officially recognized by the state of Georgia.This follows a WTOC Investigates story two months ago that made the city aware that they missed a critical step in the process.Just over a month ago, the City of Port Wentworth adopted their comprehensive plan.The plan has to be done every five years...

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) - The City of Port Wentworth’s comprehensive plan is officially recognized by the state of Georgia.

This follows a WTOC Investigates story two months ago that made the city aware that they missed a critical step in the process.

Just over a month ago, the City of Port Wentworth adopted their comprehensive plan.

The plan has to be done every five years as it serves as the foundation for zoning and land use in the city, but it wasn’t recognized by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs because the city missed the final step. Since Port Wentworth didn’t complete the process, they were at risk of losing state and federal grant funding.

Now that they’ve finalized it, Port Wentworth is moving forward with development and addressing infrastructure concerns in the community.

A 138-page plan on DCA’s website shows that plan is now finalized and approved.

Page 2 of 138

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“I think we need to go further than just the comprehensive plan, which is a land use plan. I think we need to look at transportation. It’s a big issue here with congestion,” said Steve Davis, Port Wentworth’s city manager.

That’s one of the priorities for City Manager Steve Davis who officially assumed office two weeks ago after serving as interim for two months.

Davis also confirmed an audit into the city’s finances will happen within the next couple of months.

If you remember, we reported two months ago that the city was at least $150,000 behind in key bills that kept the city running even though the money was there.

“We can really look at what happened make sure there wasn’t any foul play or anything to that to effect. We haven’t found any evidence to that effect other than things weren’t done properly,” Davis said.

Davis said they’re adding a deeper forensic audit to the city’s annual audit in July.

Residents near Saussy and Berrien Rd. said another issue that hasn’t been handled properly is drainage and development issues in their community. It’s something they’ve been trying to get the city to address for years

“I want to show you all how the water drains off the highway into the ditch near Saussy Rd,” said Georgia Benton, who lives and owns land in Port Wentworth.

Georgia Benton and her son said they own 50 percent of land the Saussy Canal flows over down to Black Creek.

“It’s about the Benton family protecting the Benton family, our property and honestly our legacy,” said Laray Benton, who owns land in Port Wentworth.

Davis said he wants to move forward together and repair the relationship between the city and that community.

He said: “It’s a majority Black community there and they feel like the infrastructure hasn’t been addressed to the Black community so we’re going to be looking at that issue.”

The family and community have been documenting the issues for a while and they hope to present it to city officials soon at a neighborhood meeting.

The Benton family said property owners in that community are seeking representation to take legal action against the City of Port Wentworth.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.

'Something besides fast food'? Port Wentworth takes steps to attract more businesses

The City of Port Wentworth has begun laying the groundwork for more commercial services such as restaurants and retail -- resources that residents say are sorely lacking in the industry-heavy municipality.City council unanimously approved a three-year contract with commercial development consultants Nextsite...

The City of Port Wentworth has begun laying the groundwork for more commercial services such as restaurants and retail -- resources that residents say are sorely lacking in the industry-heavy municipality.

City council unanimously approved a three-year contract with commercial development consultants Nextsite during Tuesday night's council meeting. Mayor Gary Norton and council member Glenn Jones were not present due to scheduling conflicts. Council member Mark Stephens participated virtually.

Previous coverage:After months in limbo, Port Wentworth officially hires city manager, attorney, clerk

City Manager Steve Davis said the council is still adjusting to the new meeting schedule which calls for an additional council meeting every second Tuesday of every odd numbered month.

According to Davis, Nextsite has a good track record of attracting commercial development to surrounding municipalities. The company provides market analysis for cities and connects the appropriate commercial resources that they identify throughout markets across the U.S.

"They're very empirically data driven ... they can help figure out what's happening and why people aren't staying here," said Davis.

Davis also mentioned that contracting with Nextsite would be less expensive than hiring an economic development director to join the city staff. Nextsite's services will cost about $15,000 per year.

The company will work collaboratively with the city's chamber of commerce, which renewed its contract with Port Wentworth earlier this year after an 18-month hiatus. The tourism and marketing branch of the city works directly with local businesses. Nextsite would enhance those efforts at drawing both visitors and residents to the city.

"They go hand in hand," said Davis.

During the council meeting, the city manager also mentioned reviving Port Wentworth's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) which hasn't been active for years. A DDA's goal is to revitalize and redevelop a city's central business districts.

Port Wentworth's DDA coverage area encompasses the entire city limits, which is unlike other downtown development authorities that usually only covers a portion of the city, said Davis.

Answering residents' complaints

Residents have routinely complained about the lack of commercial businesses in Port Wentworth and how they have to travel to neighboring municipalities for basic services such as car repair, doctors appointments and sit-down restaurants.

Port Wentworth resident Trevor Ferguson spoke up during the public comment period to urge the city to bring in more of those resources and amenities.

"Please put something down here that we have to go to Pooler to get right now," said Ferguson, "If I want to take my mom or fiancée out to dinner, I can't even get it in Port Wentworth."

According to District 1 council member Gabby Nelson, Port Wentworth only has a few restaurants that aren't fast food chains.

"We need to bring in something besides fast food, gas stations and warehouses," said Nelson, "There's nothing that you can truly nourish your family off of."

Nelson also pointed out the lack of medical services in the city. The closest urgent care facilities are in Rincon and Pooler. Increasing traffic has made it harder to reach those locales over the years as well.

"We have 13,000 people and not one urgent care center," said Nelson.

The council member oversees the northern portion of the city that has seen explosive population growth over the last decade. Nelson said she's excited that the city has gotten the ball rolling on bringing in amenities residents have been wanting for years.

"I'm excited and grateful that someone is looking to get these businesses out here," said Nelson.

Nancy Guan is the general assignment reporter covering Chatham County municipalities. Reach her at nguan@gannett.com or on Twitter @nancyguann.

Missing blue star marker re-dedicated

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. —After a tribute to those who have served in the armed forces went missing, the garden club of Georgia re-presented the marker today after more than two years.The ceremony took place at the Georgia welcome center in Port Wentworth and now stands tall as a symbol of respect and honor for those who serve in the armed forces.When members of Georgia’s garden club noticed a marker meant to pay respect to veterans and active members of the armed forces was missing, they didn&rsq...

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. —

After a tribute to those who have served in the armed forces went missing, the garden club of Georgia re-presented the marker today after more than two years.

The ceremony took place at the Georgia welcome center in Port Wentworth and now stands tall as a symbol of respect and honor for those who serve in the armed forces.

When members of Georgia’s garden club noticed a marker meant to pay respect to veterans and active members of the armed forces was missing, they didn’t know what to think.

“several years ago on a trip to South Carolina, I knew there was a marker supposed to be here so I was gonna stop and check on it. Well, there was no marker here and so I began a quest to find out what happened to the marker," said Jan Thiese, the blue and gold star marker chair for the Garden Club of Georgia

Crews had removed the marker from outside the Georgia welcome center when the building went through reconstruction. No one ever put it back up — it was collecting dust in a storage facility.

“So we pulled it up and it was in really bad repair and before we reinstalled it and we started the effort to have it restored. Now it looks like a brand-new marker,” Thiese said.

The marker ended up having to be specially restored by an expert which also added to the time it took to get it back up. But club members like Karen Williams said that it was worth the wait.

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“it might just be a marker it might just be something that you come and look at but it’s so much more than that because it represents those that made the ultimate sacrifice and those that are thinking about serving our country it shows them that we care and that we would not have these freedoms those liberties without their service,” Williams said.

Now anyone who stops by the Georgia Welcome Center can see the marker and appreciate what it stands for.

Port Wentworth plan to add warehouses caught in legal limbo

PORT WENTWORT, Ga. (WTOC) - A controversial plan to add a warehouse park in Port Wentworth is in legal limbo and affects the city’s standing with the state of Georgia.WTOC Investigates uncovered the discrepancy after a months-long investigation into a controversial zoning decision to allow a proposed eight million square foot industrial park off Highway 21 near the Effingham County line.The city’s new 2021 comprehensive plan approved by the City Council last summer is not recognized by the Georgia Department of Comm...

PORT WENTWORT, Ga. (WTOC) - A controversial plan to add a warehouse park in Port Wentworth is in legal limbo and affects the city’s standing with the state of Georgia.

WTOC Investigates uncovered the discrepancy after a months-long investigation into a controversial zoning decision to allow a proposed eight million square foot industrial park off Highway 21 near the Effingham County line.

The city’s new 2021 comprehensive plan approved by the City Council last summer is not recognized by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, according to Adrion Bell, director of marking and communications for DCA.

A final step apparently missed in the city process is why the plan is not recognized.

“The new plan is not yet on our website, because we haven’t yet received their final plan and adoption resolution,” Bell said, in an emailed statement to WTOC.

Port Wentworth Interim City Manager Steve Davis, who has been on the job two weeks, learned about the plan status after WTOC Investigates made him aware of it.

“That is news to me, and obviously I’ve just gotten here so I don’t know why it wasn’t sent or if it was sent if it was lost, Davis said, in an interview Tuesday. “Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that because I just don’t know.”

The group hired by Port Wentworth to finalize the 2021 plan is the Coastal Regional Commission.

In an email, the commission said quote “after numerous solicitations to city staff/ officials” for months last year it was not able to get the signed resolution adopted by the council to then send to the state.

“That is a very, very key document, so I will look at that,” Davis said. He added that it’s a top priority for the city to correct the situation because the city’s compliance with the state affects its ability to receive state and federal grant funding.

At a minimum, the state requires cities to update their comprehensive plans at least once every five years and provide a finalized copy and adopted resolution to DCA.

In a follow-up interview today, Davis said the City Council will have to vote again on the adopted resolution for the plan. The vote will happen at the March 24th meeting.

It’s also unclear how the plan’s status could affect a number of zoning decisions the City Council already has made based on the new plan. One of those zoning decisions already faced controversy back then and now legal action by one family who says they don’t want to live next to an industrial warehouse park.

For years, communities near the Port of Savannah have faced strong pressure to develop warehouse space.

The warehouses are needed to store shipping containers as they move between the docks and their final destinations.

Earlier this year, the city of Bloomingdale put a temporary stop to warehouse applications. In Port Wentworth, the applications are still moving.

Evidence of the intense pressure is just across the Effingham County line off Highway 21 - where another warehouse park expansion is underway for the Georgia International Trade Center project. Construction crews are clear cutting and pouring concrete for the next phase. A thin tree line and retention pond are what separate the massive industrial development from the Rice Creek residential subdivision.

Until last summer, Port Wentworth held a firm stance that its future growth next to neighborhoods in the northern part of the city would be for residential and suburban development.

But that changed in July of last year when the City Council approved a new set of future land use maps. The maps are part of the 2021 Comprehensive Plan and call for a large industrial park in the northern part of the city along Highway 21. Future land use maps are what guide all development decisions in a city.

One month after it approved the new maps, the City Council approved a zoning change to allow a proposed eight million square foot warehouse park on about 800 acres of land between the Effingham County line, Highway 21 and Highway 30. The decision wasn’t without controversy. The Planning Commission already had recommended the council deny the zoning change and neighbors off Saussy Road also spoke against it.

LaRay Benton’s family has since filed a zoning appeal in the Chatham County Superior Court.

“You’re going to build up everything around us with all that concrete, all the warehousing, when it rains, it’s not soaking on their property,” said LaRay Benton, who grew up on Saussy Road and filed the legal action on behalf of his family. “So all of the water sitting on their property now it’s got to come somewhere.”

During an interview last month, former Port Wentworth City Manager Ed Booth said the 2021 comprehensive plan changes were done legally and reflect how Port Wentworth is growing.

“It seems to be a good fit up there,” he said. “They want to put in 8 million square feet. There is a concern of the traffic on Highway 21. But even if we deny it, they’ll still go in Effingham County and we’ll still get the traffic, so we might as well get the advantage.”

He pointed out the nearest residential house is more than 1,500 feet away from the proposed industrial warehouse park, as required by law.

Also, the city has established impact fees for the proposed industrial park, which he said will help the city add more quality of life amenities, such as a sports complex and sidewalks.

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