A revised proposal for the rezoning of multiple acres on Blanchard Road was still not good enough to please nearby homeowners.
The land's owners, Superior Court Judge James G. Blanchard, Joe E. Blanchard and Billie June Morgan, had requested in November the rezoning of more than 27 acres for commercial use and about seven acres for professional use, according to county records.
The Blanchard family backed off the rezoning of seven acres and changed the rezoning request for the 27 acres from commercial to professional use after a public outcry.
The planning commission voted 2-1 Thursday not to recommend the rezoning after many Blanchard Road residents still spoke in opposition to it.
Columbia County Planning and Development Director Jeff Browning recommended that planning commissioners deny the initial request, citing the residential character of the area, the distance from an approved commercial node and the potential for increased traffic.
However, the deciding vote rests with the county commission at its Dec. 18 meeting, Browning said. The planning commission is only an advisory body.
County taxpayers spent more than $1.6 million in December 2002 to buy about 153 acres from the Blanchard family for Blanchard Woods Park, which is near the land under consideration for rezoning.
County officials are negotiating with the Blanchards to buy about 35 acres to expand the park at a cost of about $2.5 million, said county Commission Chairman Ron Cross.
At Judge Blanchard's request, negotiations for more park land were suspended until the rezoning is finalized, Cross said.
"He didn't want any hint of impropriety" Cross said of Judge Blanchard. "He said, 'Let's get that zoning issue out of the way before we go any further,' and I thought that was the proper thing to do."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.