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Bartram Trail area is years from complete

Developers have plans for most of land in node

Posted: Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The sound of hammers pounding nails will likely be as common as clubs striking golf balls for years to come along Columbia Road near the Bartram Trail Golf Club and subdivision.

At a recent Columbia County Planning Commission meeting, the county approved a rezoning for a planned 39-acre mixed-use town house and professional office complex on Columbia Road, which is the latest development scheduled for an area where plenty of growth is planned.

According to a county document, the green light has been given or is pending on plans for the development of about 80 percent of land in an area listed in the county's latest Growth Management Plan as the Bartram Trail Node.

Much of burgeoning Bartram Trail and Ivy Falls Plantation developments and Patriots Park fall within the circular, half-mile-radius area known as Bartram Trail. The center of the area is at the intersection of Columbia Road at Bartram Trail Drive.

"If you look at aerial photography, (the node) looks pretty much barren, but with the developments that have already been approved for that area, there is a significant amount of it that will be developed in the future," said Dave Van De Weghe, a county planner.

According to the county's Growth Management Plan, a node is defined as a "concentrated activity center'' where commercial developments, offices and houses are balanced to contain sprawl to intersections and major roads and urge residents to visit nearby areas for shopping and services.

Nodes range in size from Tier I, such as the Evans Town Center, to Tier IV, such as the Appling area.

Bartram Trail is a Tier II, which prohibits industry and big-box retail stores such as Wal-Mart. The Bartram Trail node could include grocery stores and office space.

Van De Weghe said development is years away from completion, but an analysis of the projects - all zoned as planned unit development - shows the potential for at least 65 acres of commercial and office space, more than 400 town house units and more than 270 single-family houses.

Those figures don't include hundreds of houses planned in surrounding single-family neighborhoods along Chamblin Road and William Few Parkway.

County officials estimate that 182 residents live in 64 homes in a node that has the potential for 1,800 residents in the future.

Columbia County planning director Jeff Browning stated in an e-mail that although development plans exist for office, professional and higher density housing in the Bartram Trail area, a large portion of the acreage is reserved for recreational uses such as Patriots Park and the area's golf course.

Matt Mills, the vice president of Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial, said developers and home buyers are drawn to the Bartram Trail area because of the price of land, which is below many similar developments in the Evans and Martinez areas.

Mills, who represented developer Abram Serotta when the latest development was rezoned on Columbia Road, said Bartram Trail and other planned unit developments around the node will take years to complete.

By comparison, another Tier II Node - Greenbrier - is about 79 percent developed, with plans approved for a second phase of Riverwood Plantation, Van De Weghe said. Without the Riverwood expansion, the node is about 19 percent developed.

About 300 acres of the 1,500-acre expansion of that community falls within the Greenbrier node, he said. The expansion, called Riverwood West, calls for about 230 acres with potential commercial and professional space and about 3,000 single-family, apartment and town house residences clustered around a central village.

Developers of Riverwood West have said completion of that development is years away.



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