Voters and county commissioners in Columbia County made important decisions this past week, with significant implications for the countys future.
As voters were giving a landslide victory to new District 4 commissioner Lee Anderson, the four other members of the Commission were approving rezoning for a Kroger-anchored retail strip in Evans.
Lets admit this up front: Neither vote was the first choice of this newspaper. Even so, the results suit the community just fine.
We endorsed one of Andersons opponents, George James, but noted that either man would make a fine commissioner. And indeed we believe Anderson will; though his government experience isnt as recent as James, he built up significant knowledge during his eight years as a school board member and through his work with the Farm Bureau.
What Anderson (and James, for that matter) lacks in polish, he more than makes up in character and common sense, traits he parlayed into a resounding win at the polls. His victory should go a long way toward giving the countys sometimes-disaffected rural residents a commissioner with whom they can be comfortable.
We offer our hearty congratulations to Anderson, and welcome him back to public life.
The Kroger shopping center rezoning by commissioners is a tough loss for some residents of the Furys Ferry and Evans-to-Locks area who feel betrayed as their community is commercialized.
There are, however, plenty of silver linings. For instance, one of the landowners was poised to bring in a discount store in a metal building on his site if the larger project had failed - and nothing in the county code could have prevented it. The larger shopping center project prevents such piecemeal development.
Also, by keeping the size of the anchor store the same as the nearby Bi-Lo, commissioners are preventing a superstore project from what should be a neighborhood-type center. (Of course, developer Vic Mills rightly says restricting the anchor stores size is somewhat arbitrary, because it doesnt affect the centers overall square footage.)
Its a useful coincidence that both these votes - on the shopping center and on Anderson - came in the same day. Anderson, more than any other candidate, pledged to look out for the interests of the county as a whole. That kind of common sense will do well on a Commission that could sometimes use a more down-to-earth view.
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