The Columbia County Planning Commission voted Thursday in favor of a rezoning request for a mixed-use medical office and residential development near a proposed fifth high school.
The zoning board voted 4-1 to approve the request by Great Water Homes LLC to rezone more than 300 acres at Chamblin and Baker Place roads, outside Grovetown. The site would surround 70 acres that the Columbia County school system is attempting to acquire through eminent domain for a planned 2,000-student high school.
The developer's request had previously been tabled Jan. 18 for concerns the proposed 835-unit development, known as Hidden Creek, would have too many homes.
Developer Chad Vickers said proposed apartments had been removed and the revised site plan called for a total of 733 units made up of town homes, single family homes and units within an "active adult" retirement community.
The revised plan also called for about 69 acres of greenspace, an increase of 20 acres from the previous proposal.
Still, members of the zoning board said they were uncomfortable with the proposed density, which county planners said would be about three homes per acre. At the Jan. 18 meeting, the board asked Vickers to reduce the density to about 2.4 units per acre.
Vickers countered that the density of the development was skewed by the proposed "active-adult" retirement community, which he said would not affect the area like typical high-density housing would. Those who are older than 55, he said, typically don't have children in schools and make fewer trips on county roads.
He also said the rising costs of land and construction made more homes on the tract necessary. There was no public opposition at the past two meetings and planning commissioner Dean Thompson cast the lone vote against the rezoning.
The request will now go before the Columbia County Commission for final approval Feb. 20.
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