The Columbia County Commission has turned down a bid from a private company to purchase and potentially develop the former Baker Place Landfill site.
Commissioners, however, left the door open to future talks with the St. Louis-based firm.
On Tuesday, commissioners unanimously said no to a proposal by Environment Liability Transfer Inc. ELT approached the county earlier this year about assuming ownership of the closed landfill, with a plan to take responsibility over capping and monitoring the site under state guidelines.
The company also had plans to develop a portion of the 215-acre site, of which only 76 acres is considered part of the landfill.
Commissioners placed the landfill property up for bids, saying a buyer could save the county $10 million already earmarked to fulfill state monitoring requirements. ELT was the only bidder for the site, but commissioners balked, saying the company's bid did not match what was promised.
Mark Hudgens, an attorney representing ELT, said the company respected the commissioners' decision, but asked them "to keep the door open" for future discussions. He said it was ELT's intent to make the landfill deal "a very successful venture" for all parties.
Commission Chairman Ron Cross said the county was not through discussing possibilities for the landfill.
In other business, commissioners unanimously approved the second and final reading of an ordinance creating strict aesthetic standards for new business construction at the intersection of Belair and Columbia roads.
The ordinance requires new business construction to conform to a style known as "Southern Vernacular," which features narrow building fronts; nonmetal roofs with parapet walls; varied exterior finishes including brick, stucco and stone; earth-tone colors; columns; awnings; and staggered facade setbacks to make large buildings such as grocery stores and strip shopping centers appear to be separate buildings.
The code is stricter than the current requirements of the Evans Town Center. Officials have said they hope the new aesthetic standards and recently approved funds for streetscape improvements will stimulate revitalization in the area.
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