The application of new aesthetic standards for commercial construction on Columbia Road will head to the county commission Tuesday after the recent approval of the Columbia County Planning Commission.
The restrictions, similar to those passed in September for frontage properties along Washington and Furys Ferry roads, are part of a plan intended to promote a standardized look from Flowing Wells Road to just west of Shady Grove Drive. The plan, called a Corridor Protection Overlay District, affects about 174 parcels of land that front Columbia Road, according to a county document.
The plan includes prohibitions on the usage of metal exterior paneling on the front of commercial buildings, prohibits overhead loading doors from the front of buildings, restricts acceptable building materials on faades to stucco, brick, stone, wood shingles or siding, and prohibits flat roofs on townhomes and apartments.
Existing commercial structures are grandfathered in and the regulations apply only to new construction or major additions to existing buildings, according to a planning commission report. The restrictions do not apply to existing single-family homes.
About 80 people opposed to the plan attended the Oct. 6 meeting. Many spoke to the four assembled planning commissioners saying noncomplying growth is out of hand on the thoroughfare and the new restrictions will prevent property owners from using their property as they choose.
The Corridor Protection Overlay District regulations were passed by the county commission in June, said Ron Thigpen, the county's planning commission chairman. The debate and vote Oct. 6 was to determine whether the Corridor Protection Overlay District should be applied to Columbia Road, he said.
"The public hearing we're having tonight is strictly to take the application of that ordinance and apply it to Columbia Road," Thigpen said. "There have been two other corridors, Furys Ferry and northern Washington Road, that it's previously been applied to."
This angered some in attendance, who said they were under the impression that the provisions of the Corridor Protection Overlay District were up for debate and were not notified that the purpose of the vote was implementation.
A motion by planning commissioners Tony Atkins and Tom Sprague to table the debate failed. Board members approved the Corridor Protection Overlay District for Columbia Road by a vote of 3-1.
Some homeowners expressed concern that the district would not allow them to rezone property as commercial. Two Columbia Road residential property owners said they had been told by real estate agents that their property values were capped near $150,000 because home buyers would not pay the premium a commercial buyer would because of traffic.
Jeff Browning, the director of planning and development, said the Corridor Protection Overlay District does not set zoning in stone and that requests for rezoning on Columbia Road can be approved provided they conform with the county growth management plan.
In other business, the commission tabled a resolution to submit the Growth Management Plan Update 2025 to the state Department of Community Affairs for discussion. A motion to rezone Deerwood Estate, Deerwood Acres and Deerwood Circle from R-3 to R-1 was approved.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.