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Building appearance standards OK'd

Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Members of the Columbia County Planning Commission approved the implementation of new aesthetic standards for new commercial construction along a fourth and final corridor Thursday.

The new standards, known as a Corridor Protection Overlay District, or CPOD, prohibit use of metal exterior paneling and overhead loading doors on the front of commercial buildings and flat roofs on town homes and apartments. They also restrict building materials on facades to stucco, brick, stone, wood shingles or siding.

Planning commissioners approved the standards for the southern end of Washington Road from the Evans Town Center Overlay district to the Richmond County line. The Columbia County Board of Commissioners will vote on the plan's implementation for this area Nov. 1.

The standards apply to buildings fronting Washington Road and only to new construction or additions to existing commercial buildings, said Robin Bechtel, the senior planner for the Columbia County Department of Planning and Development.

Existing structures are grandfathered in, she said.

The building standards were approved by county commissioners in June and have been implemented along Furys Ferry Road, Washington Road north of the Evans Town Center and Columbia Road, said Tom Sprague, vice-chairman of the planning commission.

In other action, the planning commission voted to table public debate and the vote to grant the rezoning of 1,500 acres intended to be developed as phase two of Riverwood Plantation.

That rezoning request is slated for the next meeting of the planning commission Nov. 3 and will be open to public debate.

Residents near the new planned development that straddles both sides of Washington Road shared concerns to the planning commission about traffic, density, storm water runoff and the strain on the county's infrastructure.

"There's no way any of the roads in that area are going to be able to handle it," said Mark Schmidt, the president of the Windmill Property Owners Association Inc. "They can't handle what they have now."

Staff from the Planning and Development Department recommended the commission members table the vote because of concerns about an additional 230 acres of commercial development, no identified parcels of land for public school construction and inconsistencies with zoning mandates in the application, according to a county document.

Developer Wayne Millar said he agreed with the decision to table until the issues could be addressed, and he would like the opportunity to meet with concerned residents.



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