New gas station planned across from new BHS

Published 7:41 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Interest in commercial development off U.S. 84 East appears to be increasing, as a new gas station could open near the new Bainbridge High School later this year.

Daniel Barnard Jr. of Bainbridge is planning to place a convenience store with gas, diesel and a restaurant within sight of the new Bainbridge High School campus, according to City of Bainbridge and Decatur County planning records.

The site is located on about 2.3 acres of land about 1,700 feet west of the new school, off the highway’s northern shoulder, according to Roy Simpson of ERA Realty. Simpson is representing Federated Properties of Panama City, Fla., in the sale of several tracts of land located between U.S. 84 East and a railroad operated by CSX of Jacksonville, Fla. An approximately 2.25-acre tract immediately west of Barnard’s planned development is also for sale.

Although Simpson could only say the 2.3-acre tract is for sale under contract, Barnard has requested the site be annexed into city limits and assigned a zoning of highway commercial. The City Council approved the annexation and agreed to extend city water and sewer services across the highway to the site. The Bainbridge Planning Commission recommended zoning the property for highway commercial use on Tuesday evening.

Barnard was previously the owner of the Raceway convenience store on Tallahassee Highway, according to city records, and has also owned interests in other local gas stations, through partnerships with his family and other business persons.

According to County Planning Director Paul Soudi, the Georgia Department of Transportation has approved a highway access point at the site, which already has a 50-feet wide easement that runs from the highway to farm land north of the railroad. The easement, which runs between two Federated-owned tracts, will be widened to 60 feet to accommodate traffic into the development, Soudi said.

Just east of the planned gas station, land is being cleared to become an organic fruit farm on land Key Lime Partners LLC of Islamorada, Fla., recently purchased from Federated, Simpson said.

Nearby, Southern Forestry has a sign offering 25.03 acres of land zoned for highway commercial use.

The City Council annexed the land and extended city utilities to it in 2008. At the time, Bainbridge planning officials had a lengthy discussion about how commercial development could affect the new school and the surrounding area, which has been predominately rural and residential in the past.