There wasn't a lot Columbia County Planning Commissioner could do for Ivy Falls residents Thursday night, except sympathize.
Residents last appeared before the planning commission one year ago to complain about one of their subdivision developers. They complaining that he'd promised amenities and never built them.The commission put it quite simply to Joe Neal - they wouldn't approve any more of his subdivision until the pool and clubhouse were built.
And they gave him a year to do it.
That year ended recently: The pool is a mud pit and the clubhouse is graded red clay.
Let the venting begin.
"We want y'all to do everything y'all can do to help us get our pool and clubhouse completed," said Dennis Brooks, president of the neighborhood association.
Brooks and about a dozen other Ivy Falls residents - including one who stormed out of the Evans Government Center Auditorium because she was too angry to talk - attended last week's meeting to find out what's next in their neighborhood saga.
Neal did not attend the meeting.
Planning commissioners said they'd done all they could do - tying up the subdivision in planning and zoning red tape hits the developer in the pocketbook.
"That should be the most damaging thing this board can do," Planning Director Jeff Browning said.
Doing anything else would overstep the board's jurisdiction, said planning commissioner Steve Brown.
"I'm not going to break the law for anyone," he said. "I'm not going to circumvent the law just because someone is being irresponsible."
Also at Thursday's meeting, planners voted 3-2 to deny a request from the Martinez Fire Department to rezone property for a new fire station near the corner of Plymouth and Desoto Drives.
Fire officials wanted to rezone 1.63 acres from residential use to special use. The request now goes to the county commission for a final decision.
Supporters said the location is perfect: it saves fire trucks from having to turn onto the heavily-congested Washington Road from the station and allows faster service to some areas.
"We looked at almost every vacant piece of property within a mile of our headquarters," said Jim Champion, president of the fire department's board of directors.
Champion said the new firehouse would be open for community functions and firefighters plan to build a small park on the property - that is currently a seldom used baseball field.
"Every station we have is open to the community because it's owned by everyone in the community," he said. "We want to be the best neighbors we can be."
But some residents who live near the proposed location said the noise, traffic and potential negative impact on surrounding property values that could accompany the station were reasons to deny the rezoning request.
"When the trucks pull out ... they are going to be pulling out onto a residential street," said Stephen Howard, who called the request "inappropriate."
Brown asked fire department representatives about a deal for some land near the Kroger on Columbia Road. He said that property would be more expensive, but more appropriate for the fire station. Plus, the proposed location would eliminate a patch of greenspace.
"We're trying to establish greenspace areas for these kids to get out of the house," he said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.