Columbia County District 2 Commissioner Tommy Mercer found himself on the other side of the lectern in the Evans Government Center auditorium Thursday, arguing against two rezoning requests before the Columbia County Planning Commission.
Mercer and several dozen other residents of Springlakes subdivision in Martinez were opposed to separate rezoning applications for 0.83 acres at 4116 Columbia Road from Community-Commercial to Commercial-2 and for a 0.51-acre tract at the intersection of Stone Mill Drive and Columbia Road from Residential-2 to Professional-1.
Jeremy Anderson sought the C-2 zoning for the former used-car lot at 4116 Columbia Road for a potential lessee who planned to put a stone and masonry product showroom at the site. Columbia County senior planner Tom Tully said the former car lot was a nonconforming use under C-C zoning.
Mercer and other residents said they were afraid that if the stone and masonry business folded, it would open the door for another used-car lot or something even less desirable that would conform to county codes under the more-permissive C-2 zoning.
He cited a nearby Flowing Wells Road residence adjacent to Martinez Elementary School that was rezoned C-2 to permit a gift shop, which later became New Creation Christian Transitional Housing, an alcohol rehabilitation center.
"Let's not make the same mistake, and let's deny this thing," Mercer said, before the planning commission denied the request.
The commission also denied the rezoning request for the tract at Stone Mill Drive and Columbia Road.
Attorney Bill Williams, representing homeowner Fatemeh Hazer, argued that Springlakes Homeowners Association covenants prohibiting the use of a residence for any purpose other than as a dwelling might not be valid or withstand a legal challenge.
He also argued that if the planning commission denied the request, it would deny Hazer's constitutional rights to use the property as she sees fit.
The planning commission ultimately agreed with Springlakes residents.
Also at Thursday's meeting, the planning commission:
- Approved the rezoning of 54.78 acres on Lewiston Road at Interstate 20 from Residential-1 to C-2. Developer Mark Senn told the commission he plans for the site to become a shopping center, but declined to comment further.
- Approved the rezonings of two 0.40-acre tracts and one 0.71-acre tract on Peachtree Road from R-2 to C-2. These will join the site of the old Evans Middle School as part of a retail development.
- Approved the rezoning of 15.49 acres on Industrial Park Drive from M-1, Industrial Manufacturing, to Planned Unit Development to become part of the Marshall Square development.
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