Two items before the Columbia County Planning Commission sparked plenty of debate Thursday.
The planning commission denied a rezoning application by T.R. Reddy, a developer and owner of a 9.95-acre tract near the southwest corner of the intersection of Hardy McManus and Furys Ferry roads, stating his plan did not meet the land-use guidelines of the county's Growth Management Plan.
Reddy was seeking to rezone the property to C-2, medium density commercial, from its R-1 light residential status, but said he would accept a lower density commercial zoning such as C-1 or CC.
Reddy, who has owned the parcel since 1989, told the commission he was assured then and in later years by planning staffers that the area was designated a possible commercial zone and that a rezoning request would pass when he had secured tenants for a development.
He said at the time he was warned not to participate in "speculative zoning."
A small tract at the intersection already is zoned C-1 and the intersection is the last major intersection on Furys Ferry without commercial development.
Neighboring residents asked the commission to deny the rezoning because of the potential for increased traffic and a commercial development's incongruence to the surrounding area.
Jeri Whitworth, a member of the steering committee that developed the county's Growth Management Plan, warned the commission that it should take those guidelines seriously.
"For all the money spent on the Growth Management Plan ... the plan needs to have teeth and be respected" even though it is not law, she said.
Though the application was denied by the planning commission, it will still proceed to the county commission meeting Jan. 5.
Earlier in the meeting, the planning commission also unanimously approved a variance for Barrett Place, Phase 1, a planned unit development intended to have 42 freestanding homes on just more than 8 acres near the Jones Creek subdivision.
Developer Paul Peterson asked the commission to approve a variance to allow paved service driveways 20 feet wide, about 4 feet narrower than code, to run along the back of the lots permitting future homeowners access to their garages.
The 2,200- to 2,800-square-foot houses would feature garages on the back, necessitating the service road, Peterson said.
The plan would feature a street running through the center of the development 40 feet wide that would not provide garage and driveway access, he said.
Whitworth, a resident of the neighboring Jones Creek, expressed concerns that the high-density small neighborhoods that have sprouted up around her subdivision have harmed lakes and streams within her neighborhood, and that buffers between these developments and Jones Creek are not adequate.
The commission approved the variance providing that no vegetation would be removed from natural buffers without planning staff approval.
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