Columbia County planning commissioners cited fear of crime in denying a rezoning that would bring apartments off Old Evans Road.
“I know apartments bring crime,” Planning Commission Chairwoman Jean Garniewicz said. “It just happens.”
A request to bring 50 apartment units next to the Kennametal facility was shot down 4-0 by planning commissioners. Board member Jim Cox abstained from the vote because of a professional relationship with the applicant.
The rezoning request was the county’s first for apartments in 2012.
This is the second time planning commissioners have recommended denial of an apartment rezoning since a moratorium on multi-family housing was lifted in March 2011.
In September, they voted 3-1 to deny adding 44 units to a planned apartment complex on CDP Industrial Boulevard. County commissioners, however, rejected their recommendation and voted 4-1 to allow the rezoning.
The revised ordinance got rid of the former requirement of 14 apartments per acre by creating an A-R 10 district, which limits the density of apartment rezonings to 10 units per acre. The revision also cuts the number of new apartments allowed each year to 50.
Already approved on the 23-acre site is 120 townhomes, 60 of which were passed in December and the other half was given the go-ahead in February.
Garniewicz and others on the board worried that adding apartments in an already high-crime area would exacerbate the problem.
Commissioner Gary Richardson noted that there were 2,500 vacant apartment units in the county.
While a request to rezone property for apartments was denied, one to change 53 acres on Furys Ferry Road from townhouse residential to single-family residential was approved.
County Planner Charles Andrews said the rezoning would greatly reduce the density of the property, which is in the Jones Mill subdivision.
Also, the commission agreed to rezone four acres on Collins Drive from single-family residential to single-family and two-family residential. They also approved a rezoning at 206 Flowing Wells Road from professional to planned development for use of two personal care homes.
A preliminary plat for three lots on seven acres in the West Lake subdivision also received approval.