A new Medical College of Georgia-affiliated medical campus in Evans moved one step closer to reality Thursday after approval by the Columbia County Planning Commission of a rezoning request.
The request moves forward to Columbia County Commission for final approval at its June 20 meeting.
The 57.88-acre MCG Physicians Practice Group medical campus near the intersection of Washington and Knob Hill Farm roads faced opposition by Columbia County planning staffers, who recommended disapproval because the land requested for rezoning from residential-agricultural to professional-1 was outside the Greenbrier node outlined by the county's latest Growth Management Plan.
The Greenbrier district, planning staffers said, is a "tier 2" node, permitting professional and commercial development, excluding big-box retail. The Growth Management Plan, a guideline for the county's growth, does not call for nonresidential development between the Greenbrier node and the Evans Town Centre area.
Developer Ralph Kitchens, of Nichols Investment Co., argued that the node, if centered at the intersection of Washington Road and William Few Parkway, and not several hundred yards north as it is now, would include a large portion of the tract, making the proposed rezoning in line with the growth plan. All other development nodes, he said, center at intersections.
Planning commission Vice Chairwoman Deanne Hall asked Kitchens if attempts were made to purchase land from the developers of Riverwood Plantation, for whom the county recently rezoned 200 acres commercial-2 as part of a massive planned unit development. Kitchens said they tried but were unable to come to an agreement.
Kitchens said growth will ultimately come to the area and might necessitate that the county change the Growth Management Plan to permit additional nonresidential development.
"It will have high paying jobs ... that will fit the economic and medical needs of Columbia County," he said.
Dr. Curt Steinhart, Physicians Practice Group's CEO and president, said the development will initially include a diagnostic imaging and treatment center and medical offices totaling between 16,000 and 30,000 square feet with completion of the initial phase between 16 and 24 months, pending state approval, Steinhart said.
Future additions to the site could include a physical therapy center, he said, and he would not rule out nor confirm a future ambulatory surgery center.
Planning commission Chairman Tom Sprague, a member of the committee that produced the latest Growth Management Plan, said it is not perfect and the planning commission would not be necessary if it was.
The measure passed 4-1.
The commission also:
- Approved rezoning a half-acre tract at 4845 Sharon Drive from residential-1 to special-1 for a cellular tower.
- Approved preliminary plats for Belair Evans Phase II, a planned unit development with five lots on 11.05 acres on Hereford Farm Road; The Cottages at the Clubhouse at Champions Retreat, a planned unit development with 10 lots on 3 acres on Champions Parkway; and a revision for Barrett Place, a plannet unit development with 42 lots on 8.2 acres.
- Approved a final plat for Highgrove at Williamsburg V, zoned residential-2 with a residential cluster overlay containing 79 lots on 30.24 acres on Jamestown Avenue.
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