The Columbia County Planning Commission approved the implementation of new aesthetic standards for new commercial construction along a portion of North Belair Road at its Thursday meeting.
The new standards, called a Corridor Protection Overlay District 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.
The implementation of the CPOD standards, which was approved by a 4-1 vote, will apply to 108 parcels of commercial property along a 3.5 mile-stretch of North Belair Road from the Richmond County line to Owens Road, said Jeff Browning, Columbia County's planning and development director.
"The intent is to improve the visual quality of the arterial (thoroughfares) leading into and through Columbia County," Browning said.
The CPOD standards do not apply to single-family detached homes, but to new commercial construction, Browning said. Any addition to a commercial structure that changes the footprint of the building or renovations with a value equaling 75 percent or more of the value of the building, as assessed by the tax assessor's office, would also fall under the new building standards, he said.
The same aesthetic standards were approved by the Board of Commissioners last year for Furys Ferry Road, the entire length of Washington Road and Columbia Road from Washington Road to just west of Belair Road.
The planning commission will consider whether to implement these same standards along Baston Road at their next meeting, March 2, Browning said. The CPOD standards for Belair Road will move to the board of commissioners for a vote March 7.
In other business, planning commissioners also voted 4-1 to table a county plat request for right-of-way dedication designated for a paving project for the length of Burks Mountain Road.
Judy Gordon, a biology professor at Augusta State University, asked the planning commission to consider tabling the paving project until it can be determined what impact paving could have on the Burks Mountain site. The professor said Burks Mountain is the only example of "serpentine rock outcrop south of Maryland" and that several scientifically valuable and rare species of plants inhabit the area.
Planning commissioners also approved the rezoning of 23.5-acres of land in the Horizon South Industrial Park from M-2, medium manufacturing, to C-2, medium commercial. Developer Andy Allgood said after the meeting he intends to build an upscale retail center similar to Surrey Center in Augusta, for the tract that borders the John Deere plant and has road access to Wrightsboro Road and Horizon South Parkway.
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