Bill Coleman's clients are casting a $7 million pair of development dice along North Belair Road - but Columbia County's Planning Commission doesn't want to gamble on speculative commercial zoning too close to residential property.
"This is not an easy situation," said Coleman, who was representing the Marshall family and their request to rezone 14.5 acres from light industrial use to community commercial use.
The problem, planning commissioners said, with the request was there was no specified commercial use for the property and community commercial would allow anything from a car lot to a fast food restaurant.
"If we go (community commercial), that gives you an open door," commission member Edgar Pund said Thursday night. "We'll zone the property and then something will go in there we don't like and the people will blame us."
Coleman said the Marshalls are planning a 72,000-square-foot, $7 million office complex - similar to the Atrium development on Wheeler Road in Richmond County - on part of the property. The complex would be across from the main library site and county's courthouse annex on North Belair Road, Coleman said.
That development would cover about three acre and the possible re-routing of North Belair Road would take another two to three acres, leaving about eight acres left to development. That's the property that could be development as either professional or commercial, depending on the market's needs, Coleman said.
And, that's the part of the plan that concerns planning commissioners. However, Coleman said the Marshalls would not develop the property so that it was detrimental to surrounding land.
But planners unanimously agreed to rezone all 14.5 acres for professional use and encouraged Mr. Coleman to return to the board when the plans for the rest of the property are complete.
"Until we have something we think will benefit the residents there and your property owner, it's hard to make that commercial decision," said Planning Commission Chairman Steve Brown.
The planning commission is a recommending board. The county's commission will take a final vote on the request at their Dec. 20 meeting in Evans.
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