A former dealership for recreational vehicles could become the new site for a local, family-owned paint and body repair business.
Columbia County planning commissioners Thursday approved the rezoning of the site of the now-closed of Travel Country RV, on Natures Way in Appling, to allow Cushman Paint and Body to open a body shop at the site.
Travel Country closed about two years ago after operating the dealership that formerly was a Culpepper Ford dealership. James and Ann Cushman purchased the site in January from TCRV of Augusta for $800,000, according to Columbia County property records.
Owner Ann Cushman said any plans for the site are only preliminary, but that they hope to use the larger facility and its access to the Interstate 20 exit at Appling Harlem Highway to branch out into body repairs of large trucks and RVs.
The issue of whether the site also could be used as a truck stop became a sticking point for zoning commissioners when planning staffers recommended allowing the rezoning but restricting the owners from operating a truck stop on the site – even though a truck stop already is a permitted use under the current zoning.
Realtor Lionel Prather, speaking during the planning commission rezoning hearing on behalf of the Cushman family, said they hadn’t considered allowing a truck stop at the site until staff members suggested the restriction.
“We didn’t really think about it,” he said, “but a good use with the site would be a truck stop.”
Commissioners finally punted on the issue, approving the rezoning with the restrictions based on the knowledge that their votes are advisory only. The Columbia County Board of Commissioners has the final say on rezonings, and likely will consider the request at their March 19.