Dennis Baxter spent two decades as the city manager of Pooler ushering the once-sleepy town of 2,500 residents into a new era of booming residential and commercial growth.
Now, as mayor of Bloomingdale, he’s also encouraging development in this town where he’s lived for half a century. At least, up to a point.
He hit his limit of what’s good for business and the community this year when an industrial warehouse rose up across the street from his and his wife’s parents’ family homes. The land once home to one of the oldest operating farms in the county now is filled with concrete slabs and construction debris.
“I’m very development-oriented, but I like to see it in the right perspective and the right amount,” Baxter said. “We never dreamed this would happen. You get on I-16 and turn west – it’s like, ‘Holy Moly!’”
Hundreds of warehouses like the one near Baxter’s property are changing large swaths of Coastal Georgia’s landscape. At least 100 million square feet of warehouse space has been built in Chatham, Bryan, Effingham, Liberty and Jasper counties, and another 16 million square feet are expected to be finished this year to support the Port of Savannah’s booming business.
That’s the equivalent of nearly 2,000 football fields of concrete and storage space in areas that, for the most part, used to be family-owned farms, woodlands and empty pasture.