A Martinez road will get to keep its official name, but it will still bear an honorary moniker just below the sign.
At Tuesday night's meeting, the Columbia County Commission voted unanimously to a compromise on a proposed renaming of Oak Street North, deciding to keep the road's official name but still adding the honorary title of Jowers Drive.
By keeping the road's official name intact, commissioners said they were preventing any costs to those on the road that might occur from an address change. The honorary name of Jowers Drive won't be listed in the address, but it will recognize the actions of a prominent doctor in the area with a sign just below that of Oak Street North.
"We would prefer not to change the name of Oak Street North, but we would like to honor Dr. Jowers," said commission Chairman Ron Cross, adding "This is the remedy or solution to solve both things."
The honorary name is for Dr. J. Ronald Jowers, who moved his practice into a renovated four-bedroom house on Oak Street North at Rose Lane in 1967. Jowers has served on the county's Board of Health since 1966, and officials said he was at one time responsible for having Oak Street North paved.
In other action Tuesday, commissioners voted unanimously to approve as much as $50,000 for an impact fee study in next year's fiscal budget to examine whether a certain type of impact fee would be practical and how such a fee might be structured.
"This vote tonight doesn't guarantee impact fees," Commissioner Ron Thigpen told the crowd. He said the study is needed because there are some unanswered questions from previous studies on the issue and that commissioners need those answers before deciding whether to have the fee.
Impact fees are charged on new development, both residential and commercial, to help offset future growth costs. Such a fee could add about $1,000 to the cost of a new house, and it could apply to commercial development based on square footage, officials have said.
Several developers spoke out at the meeting, saying they oppose the fees because they're not necessary in Columbia County. Columbia County Democratic Party Chairman Scott Nichols spoke in favor of the study, saying he feels many county residents would be in favor of such a fee.
After the funding approved Tuesday becomes available July 1, the county would select an outside consultant to oversee the study.
Cross said the study would be unbiased and two types of impact fees might be examined: one that would be countywide to help pay for public safety costs, and another that would be subdivision-specific to focus on certain neighborhood improvements, such as streetlights and sidewalks.
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