Columbia County's $40 million bond should only be considered in conjunction with impact fees.
I will quote the county Web site "The Columbia County Board of Commission has been researching the needs of the county and is considering a $40 million bond to accomplish urgently needed transportation, stormwater, water, sewer, building, emergency services, information technology, redevelopment, recreation and municipal projects."
All of these items are directly related to the impact residential developers are placing on our community. They make their money and leave the mess for the citizens to clean up after. It is not fair that the county commissioners will not push for and work towards making the developers participate in the problems they create by requiring impact fees.
Commissioners, please remember your responsibility to the citizens of Columbia County - not the developers. Understand, we have what the developers want: responsible citizens who work and make good money, and excellent school systems. They will continue to build in columbia county if impact fees are imposed. Trust me; developers are making enough money that impact fees will not cut into their profit margins.
Commissioners should serve the citizens of Columbia County by making decisions that will improve the future for the next generation.
I have several copies (of a letter) from the president of the Homebuilders Association of Augusta, who was writing to the members of the association indicating even he thinks impact fees are going to be necessary!
Again, to take out $40 million in debt and not force impact fees to go forward is a terrible injustice to all citizens of Columbia County and a wonderful gift to the developers who build here!
One last point: The need to use bonds such as this one to clean up ponds such as West Lake's is ridiculous. If the county would enforce the soil and erosion laws on the books, then the need to spend money to clean up again after developers would be minimized.
Furthermore, if this bond is approved, money should be set aside to hire more soil and erosion inspectors and the Engineering Department should push for stiff fines and penalties, and the department should be forced to issue "stop work" orders to gain developers' attention. Developers are only going to take care of what is inspected, not what is "expected" of them.
Think of it this way, if every time a Columbia County Sheriff's Office deputy pulls over a speeding car and gives them a warning, never a ticket, will the cars in Columbia County stop speeding? No! Everyone will know you only get warnings in Columbia County.
It is very sad to say this is the situation with the engineering department in Columbia County. It is known among developers that Columbia County gives warnings, very few fines, and rarely, if ever, stop work orders. To the developers, since this is the case, it is worth the chance to get a warning and turn the other way rather than perform the necessary soil and erosion measures needed to protect the environment, and then make a few extra dollars.
This has got to stop. Who within the Commission is willing to stand up and protect this county for the next generation?
Commissioners should carefully consider their decisions; they will "impact" the future of this county for many years to come.
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