Columbia County commissioners gave Augusta Christian Schools a 12-month reprieve Tuesday night concerning access to the school via a back entrance for football games and special events.
The 4-0 approval by commissioners at Tuesday night's board meeting in Appling also was to allow the construction of a field house for athletic purposes at the school.
Previously, there had been a disagreement among school officials and neighbors of the school about access to the campus from Lake Shore Loop, which school officials admitted can't handle much traffic. Neighbors also had complained about noise during football games and events and from delivery trucks and heavy school traffic.
"Really, I think that's been the stall for Augusta Christian to build a field house," Augusta Christian Headmaster Joel Woodcock told commissioners at Tuesday's meeting, referring to the issue of Lake Shore access.
At a Sept. 6 Columbia County Planning Commission meeting, school officials presented a plan to amend the campus' zoning to include a planned field house and add to its master plan about 1.5 acres of land off Phillips Drive.
The planning commission offered the school the option to move the rear access to nearby Phillips Drive, but school officials said Sept. 6 that the school couldn't afford a new driveway.
In the end, the compromise that commissioners agreed to was to allow the school to continue using access off Lake Shore for 12 months for football games, certain special events and emergency purposes. After that, the school must close its access to Lake Shore and use it only in emergencies.
The closing of Lake Shore also would not be contingent on Augusta Christian having a new driveway constructed from Phillips Drive.
"We can't really dictate that they build that road," said Commission Chairman Ron Cross, adding that Lake Shore would still close after 12 months even if the other driveway isn't constructed.
Martha Ferrall, a nearby resident of Augusta Christian who originally was going to speak in opposition to traffic access to Lakeshore Loop, told commissioners she was agreeable to the compromise.
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