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Appling retreat denied by planning commissioners

Posted: March 1, 2012 - 9:09pm  |  Updated: March 1, 2012 - 10:05pm

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The Columbia County Planning Commission voted against the establishment of a rural retreat in Appling — much to the pleasure of many in attendance at the Thursday meeting.

“I think it’s a great concept,” said Planning Commissioner Darryl James. “I just think it’s the wrong location.”

Homeowner Steve Dekle was seeking to rezone the 20-acre property on Eubank Drive from residential-agricultural to special district in order to hold events, such as weddings, banquets and corporate meetings, on the site.

A large group of his neighbors, however, showed up at the meeting to voice their disdain for the project. Dekle initially wanted to table a decision on the rezoning until May, but planning commissioners denied his request.

“We weren’t here to disrupt anybody’s lives,” said Dekle, after hearing many in the audience speak in opposition. “We thought it would be a good idea.”

More than half a dozen people disagreed with Dekle, stating the proposed retreat would create noise, traffic safety and environmental concerns.

Marc Birtwistle, who lives on Eubank Drive, told planning commissioners that 195 people signed a petition against the new plans for the property.

“They moved out there for a lifestyle,” he said. “It’s going to disrupt a lot of people.”

The planning and zoning board sided 4-0 with the room of concerned homeowners. Chairwoman Jean Garniewicz did not attend the meeting.

“They intended to be in the country ... where they could enjoy their property,” Planning Commissioner Gary Richardson said.

Also at the meeting, planning commissioners approved two variances for Discount Tire Inc. to locate at the corner of Washington and Old Evans roads in Martinez.

The variances reduced the amount of landscaping required between the property and Old Evans Road and increased the amount of windows allowed on the showroom portion of the building.

The planning commission also agreed to table a rezoning request for a car dealership at Washington and Gibbs Road until the April 19 meeting so applicants could meet with the county planning staff and residents living nearby.

A preliminary plat for the third section of Chastain Place was passed by the board. The subdivision, located off William Few Parkway, will consist of 38 lots on 20.3 acres.

All planning and zoning board actions are recommendations only, and require action by the Columbia County Commission before becoming final.

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