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Rezoning plans go to board

New development has homes, stores

Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2005

The application to rezone 1,500 acres of land slated to become the second phase of Riverwood Plantation will go before the Columbia County Commission at a 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

The application for the second phase, called Riverwood Plantation West, includes more than 3,100 new home sites ranging from apartments, town homes, mixed residential and commercial development and freestanding subdivisions. Developers also are planning for a grocery store and more than 230 acres of retail or professional office space.

The development is divided into two tracts: one south of Windmill Plantation and bordered by William Few Parkway and Clanton Road, and a second west of Windmill Plantation and Greenbrier High School and bisected by Washington and Old Washington roads.

Riverwood West had been a heated topic with nearby residents in four previous planning commission meetings and was tabled as developers worked to address concerns by county planning staff that included inconsistencies with code, density, the impact of additional commercial development, the lack of land set aside for schools and inadequate buffers to existing development.

Residents of Windmill Plantation, Kiokee Ridge, Lake Cumberland West and Knob Hill also repeatedly expressed concerns about stormwater runoff, potential strain on natural resources, buffers to existing development and traffic.

Planning staff recommended approval after changes to the application included reductions in density, identifying property for school construction and requirements for 85 percent of existing commercially zoned land in the development's first phase to be used before new commercial construction could begin, said Jeff Browning, the director of planning and development, at the Dec. 1 planning commission meeting.

The application was unanimously approved by the commission Dec. 1.

"I think the plan as presented right now reflects the combined efforts of the planning staff, the input of the community at large ... and ourselves (the developers)," said project developer Wayne Millar.

During the Dec. 1 meeting, Robert Pollard Jr., an owner of the property, told the residents of nearby developments that he would work with them to address their concerns.

"We don't want to do anything that doesn't improve Columbia County," he said.

After the plan's approval, Mark Schmidt, the president of the Windmill Property Owners Association and a vocal critic of the project, said he was pleased the development had been scaled back.


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