Columbia County Commission members gave final approval Tuesday to the sale of a 6.14-acre parcel on William Few Parkway to the county school board for the new Columbia Middle School.
Officials closed the deal on that parcel Wednesday at a cost of about $52,000.
The school board already had purchased five other parcels on William Few Parkway near Grovetown High, but had to wait until the commission conducted a recent public hearing about the land sale before purchasing the property.
Altogether, the board spent about $1.1 million for land to build the new Columbia Middle to replace the more than 50-year-old school building on Columbia Road. The estimated cost of the project is about $20 million.
Site work might start in December with hopes of opening the new school in August 2013.
Also at the meeting, commissioners granted a request to rezone property in Grovetown for apartments in the first test of a revised ordinance placing more stringent restrictions on such rezonings.
Property owner Harinderjit Singh asked commissioners to rezone 4.43 acres at 514 CDP Industrial Boulevard. Only Commissioner Bill Morris voted against it, but offered no protest during discussions of the issue. The site is located in Morris' District 4.
Officials changed county ordinances in March limiting the unit density for apartment rezonings to just 10 per acre. Previously, 14 apartment units were allowed on an acre. The ordinance revision also limited the number of new apartments allowed each year to just 50 units.
Singh, a businessman and hotelier, wanted the rezoning to complement 8.7 acres he owns already zoned for apartments. He intends to add 44 apartments to the 121 he already could build.
County planning commissioners voted 3-1 last month to recommend against the rezoning. However, county documents show that planning staff recommended approval, meaning Singh's request met the legal requirements in the ordinance.
Commission Chairman Ron Cross said that though he typically doesn't favor apartment rezonings, he did recognize there is a need and said Singh's property is a "good location" for such a development.