Columbia County's Planning Commission disapproved Thursday night a zoning request to build an upscale shopping center off Furys Ferry Road.
Charles Dunstan, a representative for Dunstan Inc., went before the commission to request that a single-family residential development on the east side of Furys Ferry Road at its intersection with Evans to Locks Road be rezoned to a planned unit development.
"The Lifestyle Center would (feature) men and women's clothing and boutiques," he said.
"It would require higher demographics, higher income and superior architect with heavy landscape."
Dunstan said that establishing such a shopping center would "create a sense of place" for residents and benefit the county.
"Residents would not be required to go to Richmond County to spend their money and sales tax dollars," he said.
Al Gray, an Evans resident, agreed.
"This rezoning would be an asset to Columbia County," he said. "We need as much retail and commercial as we can. If someone is opposed to change, then someone is in the wrong county."
Although the idea seemed good to some, many other residents were opposed to it.
"We don't like commercial intrusion into our neighborhoods," Jeri Whitworth, an Evans resident, said on behalf of a group called Coalition for Change. "We want everything to remain minimal."
Because time is an issue, Whitworth said, the development is premature and suggested that no plans be implemented until the county's growth management plan is complete.
"We don't want anything to be done that can't be undone," she said.
In the end, the zoning request was denied because of a 2-2 vote. Chairman Ron Thigpen and Commissioner Tony Atkins voted in favor of the plan, while commissioners Dean Thompson and Deanne Hall voted against it. Vice Chairman Tom Sprague was not at the meeting.
Commissioners also unanimously approved the following final plats: Highland Phase V at Ivy Falls Plantation; Bayview, Phase III; and Bishops Court; and these preliminary plats: Kiokee Ridge, Section four, Phase two; Bartram Trail Section two; Chamblin Ridge II; Mill Branch Section II; and Woodlief Section III.
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