Columbia County planning commissioners on Thursday approved bringing a full-service car dealership to a busy street corner in Evans.
A request to rezone 4.5 acres at Washington and Gibbs roads from neighborhood commercial to general commercial was approved 4-0 by the commission. Board member Darryl James was absent.
Land owners proposed putting a showroom, sales facility and a service center on the property, which backs up to two neighborhoods.
On portions of the property that fall within a utility easement, they want to add a paved parking lot to display vehicles for sale.
“We feel that we created a good project that has minimal impact to the community,” said Billy Jackson of Evans. Jackson is the son of state Rep. Bill Jackson, R-Appling.
Jackson said both his and another family purchased the parcel more than 20 years ago, getting it then zoned to neighborhood commercial.
The dealership, whose name isn’t being disclosed, would close by 8 p.m. and use dim-night lighting to shield neighbors from excessive lights. Both a fence and tree buffers would be installed to further protect nearby residents.
It would generate an estimated $1.1 million in sales tax for the county and employ 20 to 25 people, Jackson said.
The current zoning would allow for a convenience store, causing more noise and traffic than a dealership would, Jackson said.
The item was tabled by planning commissioners at a March 1 meeting.
Jackson said he and others involved in the project have since met with the county and neighbors to address their concerns.
County Planning and Engineering Division Manager Nayna Mistry recommended denying the request as it would add more commercial development to the area.
According to the county’s growth management plan, only large-scale professional, office and institutional uses are recommended for that intersection.
“There’s only so many things that could be put here (due to the utility easement),” Chairwoman Jean Garniewicz said. “This is probably a good fit.”
No one spoke in opposition to the project, which has to go before the Board of Commissioners May 1 for final approval.
Another issue previously tabled by the board was resolved when planning commissioners granted a setback variation for a lake home planned on Postell Lane in Appling.
Also at the meeting, several text amendments were passed. An amendment regarding real estate signs was approved, increasing the size of signs from 4 to 16 square feet and setting regulations on sign locations and time limit.
Text amendments relating to the moratorium on high-density subdivisions were also approved to require that future rezoning applicants reserve 10 percent of land in a development for a “common area” and install a 15-foot undisturbed buffer between different zoning districts, for both residential and commercial.
The amendments must go before county commissioners for two readings before approval.
In other business, the commission approved variations to allow bay doors at a future Kendrick Paint and Body on Washington and Blanchard roads and a setback reduction for a lot in Brookwood Estates.
The following rezonings were also approved at the meeting: 227 S. Belair Road from single-family residential to professional; 4107 Colben Blvd. from light industrial to heavy commercial; and 325 Baston Road from single-family residential to professional.
The board also approved final plats for Frog Hollow in the Rivermont subdivision and Newcastle in Riverwood Plantation. Preliminary plats for Patriot’s Ridge in Ivy Falls, section eight of Ashbrooke, Durham in Canterbury Farms and The Hamptons at Baldwin Lakes also were approved.