The owners of more than 40 acres near Interstate 26 have agreed to be annexed into Summerville at the request of town officials.

These aren't just any acres. They lie between Maple Street off of U.S. Highway 78 and the proposed Sheep Island Road and I-26 interchange, along the route where the town plans to run an extension road from the interchange to the downtown.

That road is envisioned as the artery for the town's proposed Nexton community, one of the chief want-to-haves for its growth. The community is designed as a residential-commercial, town center-style development that would bridge today's downtown with the massive Nexton and Carnes Crossroads developments underway to the north of town across the interstate.

In history-rich Summerville, the properties have a lore of their own. They belong to members of the prominent Salisbury family that owned the Salisbury Brick Company, one of the town's first dairies, a lumber yard and even an oil well. The family acquired the Pine Forest Inn, maybe the most renowned of resort destinations in a time when the pine air in Summerville was a sought-after health retreat.

The land was sought in 2002 for "Project Blue Bell," when state and local economic development officials competed with Savannah and Jacksonville to lure a $754 million DaimlerChrysler plant. The plant was never built.

The land is largely farmland and the owners have requested to keep that zoning designation for now, said John Bell, one of the owners. They agreed to annex into the town, he said, because the move harkens to the days when people in Summerville naturally helped each other.

"If (the town) needs the land to carry this plan through, with the road and to continue development, we don't mind assisting them," Bell said. As for that growth, he said, they will deal with it when the time comes.

The annexations have been recommended for approval by the town planning commission. Town Council's planning committee will consider the recommendation at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Town Hall complex at 200 S. Main St.

"It's a really, really significant contribution to the town," Mayor Bill Collins said. "It benefits us now and it benefits us in the future."

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