Aaron dealership moves forward
Hank Aaron's Jaguar and Land Rover dealership has cleared Columbia County's zoning hurdles and should be open in early 2003.
"We're excited about the prospect of bringing this franchise to Columbia County," said local developer Bobby Meybohm - who's building the dealership for Mr. Aaron on the 14.69 acres on Washington Road across from Club Car.
Tentative plans for the dealership call for a test track out front for Land Rover vehicles, enclosed service areas in the main showroom building and four display lots.
The rezoning request did cause a stir in the retirement community adjacent to the dealership site. Paul Armstrong - the manager of Washington Commons and a former Columbia County Commission Chairman - said it wasn't the dealership that worried residents. It was the "what-ifs?": What could be built there if the dealership fails.
"Our difficulty is that C-2 zoning in Columbia County right now does not provide the adjacent residential or apartment residential property owners enough protection against unfavorable uses," he said.
To alleviate some of those concerns, commissioners required a series of stipulations: the front 1,000 feet of the property was rezoned for the dealership, the back 400 feet remains residential, the outdoor lighting should be "subdued," no outdoor speakers and there should be a 50-foot buffer of fencing, trees and other vegetation between the dealership and Washington Commons.
"The developer has done a good job of trying to be a good neighbor," said Commission Chairman Jim Whitehead. "I think this is good for everyone."
Aaron LeBlanc was back in the Columbia County jail last week - returned to a local cell because of an extradition technicality.
And he could be here a little while - he told a Columbia County judge last Tuesday he did not want to go back to North Carolina to face rape charges.
Probate Judge Pat Hardaway presided over an extradition hearing held at 3 p.m. in the Columbia County Detention Center, Columbia County Sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said. LeBlanc refused extradition.
The refusal came as no surprise to District Attorney Danny Craig, who said LeBlanc had indicated he would refuse extrication before leaving Gaston County.
LeBlanc faces rape charges in North Carolina. He was arrested in Gaston County in March, a month after he was acquitted in three Richmond County Superior Court rape cases.
Two days later, LeBlanc's bond was revoked on a technicality, and Gastonia police arrested him and took him back to North Carolina, where he was indicted on two additional charges related to the March 18 sexual assault case.
He has also been charged with terroristic threats in Richmond County, stemming from a June 2000 letter in which he wrote about his desire to kill the three Georgia women who had accused him of rape.
Tree ordinance study continues
The group of local developers, planners and residents working to create a tree ordinance for Columbia County has started studying four ordinances from other areas: Valdosta, Nashville-Davidson County, Tenn., Augusta-Richmond County and DeKalb County.
They now plan to take another month to look at the ordinances, get back together and start hammering out Columbia County's rules.
"I think commercial is the biggest deal here and that's where we should start from," said Steve Brown, a Columbia County planning commissioner who's now running for the county commission and a long-time advocate for a local tree ordinance.
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