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Growth concerns residents

Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Plans for a massive development in the Greenbrier district will be voted on by the Columbia County Planning Commission at its next meeting Thursday.

Riverwood Plantation West, the second phase of Riverwood Plantation, is a planned development containing about 3,600 home sites and commercial development on two parcels of land totaling 1,500 acres.

The vote Thursday is to rezone the land to planned unit development from its residential-agricultural zoning.

"The development is built so people work, play, live and study in the same development," said the site's developer, Wayne Millar.

The first parcel, totaling 500 acres with plans for medium-density development, is south of Windmill Plantation and bordered by William Few Parkway and Clanton Road.

The second parcel, 1,000 acres with plans for high-density, mixed-use development, town houses, subdivisions and commercial development, is planned for both sides of Washington Road west of Windmill Plantation and Lake Cumberland.

More than a dozen members of the Windmill Plantation Property Owners Association and residents from surrounding subdivisions met with Millar on Nov. 1 to voice their concerns about the scope of the development, its impact on existing infrastructure and property values, traffic and the introduction of apartment homes to the district.

Though Millar said that his company had surveys suggesting a market for high-end apartment housing in the $400-600 per bedroom range, some homeowners said his company should seek such rezoning only when the market was apparent.

Millar said the goal of Riverwood Plantation West is to offer "diversity in the types of housing (and) in the types of uses so that we can offer a fully comprehensive community."

"I think we're going to the county about our issues," said Mark Schmidt, the president of the homeowners association after the meeting. "I think he has no intention of making very many concessions.

"The apartments still scare me," Schmidt said. "There's a dime a dozen at that price in Richmond County. Who needs any more?"

The plan also calls for a grocery store, a town center with retail, and professional and residential development.

"We do believe there is ... a void in Columbia County for a high-end office park or corporate campus environment, which we don't think exists at this point," Millar said.

The application for Riverwood Plantation West was presented before the commission Oct. 20 and was tabled until Nov. 3 because of concerns about an additional 230 acres intended for commercial development, a lack of identified land for school construction, inconsistencies in the application's narrative with established code and the adequacy of buffers to adjacent development.

According to the rezoning application narrative, development would occur in stages with a schedule for completion between 2014 and 2025.


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