Residents who are concerned about the future of growth in Columbia County will have a chance Thursday to review and ask questions about the county's proposed updates to its Growth Management Plan.
The updates will be debated and could come up for a vote at the Planning and Zoning Commission's 6:30 p.m. meeting at the Evans Government Center Auditorium. If the changes are approved, the updated plan will move to the Board of Commissioners for final approval Jan. 17.
"The Growth Management Plan serves as the blueprint for how the county is expected to grow over the next five years," said Tom Tully, a senior planner with the Columbia County Planning and Development Department. "It is a 20-year vision, but it's updated every five years."
The new updates to the Growth Management Plan are mandated every five years by state law and will be used by planning commissioners and the board of commissioners to guide decisions on zoning applications, Tully said.
The updated plan, which was designed by appointed citizen members of the growth management steering committee, retains and reinforces the commercial node concept of the original plan approved by the board of commissioners in 2000, Tully said.
Commercial nodes, or hubs of commercial development are centered along major arteries at major intersections throughout the county and are divided into four classifications.
Tier I nodes, such as the Evans Town Center and the center of Martinez, are the densest and allow commercial development up to and including big-box retail and large civic uses. Tier II nodes would permit large commercial and retail development, but restrict big box retail uses. Tier III nodes would further restrict the size of commercial development, but would permit neighborhood grocery stores. Tier IV nodes such as Winfield and Leah would be limited to convenience stores, restaurants and services for the more rural ends of the county, according to the Growth Management Plan.
"The crux (of the plan) is simply that commercial activity is designed to be confined to those nodes so that we don't end up with uncontrolled commercial growth," Tully said.
"It is still possible for folks to have input before it is adopted," he said.
The plan can be viewed by the public at the planning and development department page of the county Web site, www.columbiacountyga.gov.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.