Starting next April, callers from our area will have to dial the area code whether they're checking on an aunt in Athens or ordering pizza from around the corner.
We're growing too fast, it seems. The state's Public Service Commission this past week decided there aren't enough mathematical seven-number combinations to keep up with all the new phones being activated, so as of April 2006 we'll have to dial 10 digits instead of seven when making a call.
Just how fast are we growing? Well, fast enough that we have a plan to manage it, and few people seem to really know what it is.
Two public hearings on planned five-year revisions of the county's Growth Management Plan were held Thursday; the final one will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Government Complex Auditorium in Evans.
A massive committee of 30 people has been working on revisions to the plan, easily outnumbering the citizens who've paid even a smidgen of attention to it.
"Most citizens don't know what they want until they don't get it," says Jeri Whitworth, a member of the committee and of the growth-watchdog group CHANGE. How true: When opposition over a rezoning arises, it's usually when an individual neighborhood is impacted.
For example, some citizens around Halali Farm Road are upset that the Planning Commission recently voted to rezone a piece of land from its residential use to a special zoning to allow a church.
Only residents of the road spoke out. There were no speeches from citizens in other areas of the county, not even those who have fought rezonings on their own streets in the past.
Duh, you might say; why protest changes in someone else's neighborhood? Well, it's the principal of the thing. But citizens are barely adequate watchdogs of their own streets, much less those on the other side of the county.
That, then, is why a growth management plan should be useful. This somewhat diverse group of 30 citizens is charged with helping revise a plan that guides not only growth on their street, but the impact on everyone else's.
The effectiveness of the plan is blunted by the fact that county commissioners are not required to follow it except as a guideline. Citizens know that, too, and are often frustrated when they see commissioners make decisions that seem to violate those guidelines.
Commissioners are far more aware of those guidelines than most citizens " except when those citizens are looking for ammunition to oppose change in their own neighborhood, and find the growth management plan useful in backing them up.
There's no way to make this stuff less boring or more easy to read. But you can find the current growth management plan on the county's Web site at www.columbia countyga.gov/home/index. asp?page=2976. The page has additional information, including the names of all the committee members and minutes from their previous meetings.
Tuesday in Evans is perhaps the final opportunity to see what these folks have been working on for so long. They won't do it again for five more years, so it's worth a few minutes to check it out.
It's smarter than waiting until your street is rezoned. And it's almost as easy as dialing 10 digits to get a pizza delivered.
This has been a tough time for the Luckey family. Marion Luckey Sr., who was a partner in founding Harlem's Tracy-Luckey Co., passed away March 8 after a bout with lung cancer. Then, a month later on June 14, pancreatic cancer took one of his sons, Dr. Tom Luckey of Marietta.
Though most of them are now scattered beyond Harlem, this family has made its home community very proud. I'm sure they'd appreciate your prayers.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Columbia County's Growth Management Plan:www.columbiacountyga.gov/home/index.asp?page=2976
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.