Before approving site plan revisions for Marshall Square on Thursday, the Columbia County Planning Commission made a change of its own.
After more than two hours of discussion and lengthy presentations, planning Commissioner Thom Tuckey made a motion to eliminate one of seven residential buildings at the 47-acre planned unit development, which would reduce the number of apartment units from 338 to 288.
The planning and zoning board was concerned about an apartment building located close to two residential buildings on the southern side of the property.
"It looks like they're just cramming them in there to make the numbers work," Tuckey said.
The project, as approved by the planning commission, will include six four-story residential buildings resembling a historic Williamsburg style.
According to the site plan, a 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot public square also will be built between two retail buildings and two residential buildings. Commercial units will occupy the first floor of both residential buildings closest to the public square, said Bill Marsh, a residential developer for Miller-Valentine Group.
Also, developers announced that four "live/work" buildings will front Evans Town Center Boulevard with a total of 24 condominium units located above retail space.
During the meeting, several county residents spoke both for and against the new plans.
While Evans resident Bob Brandon, who has lived in the Northwood subdivision for 19 years, said he liked the overall concept, he said he worried about the long-term results of the development.
Bill Corder, also a Northwood resident, said if the current plan was not approved, the 2007 site plan would give the planning staff little control.
Joe Marshall, whose family owns the property, also spoke.
"We've made tremendous sacrifices," he said of the developers. "We've both cut as much as we can stand on this to try and get it started."
Additional safety features, including a decorative wrought-iron gate and call box, would be built at each apartment buildings' entrance, and tenants would have to swipe a card in order to gain access. According to developers, a restrictive covenant, as allowed by the law, would prevent the units from becoming low-income housing.
The project, as proposed with seven buildings, could take about 16 months to complete and $40 million to construct. Construction could start by the end of the year, Marsh said.
The planning commission is only a recommending board and Columbia County Commissioners make the final decision, Jean Garniewicz told those in attendance.
"We've come a long way," she said. We've made some great strides. I hope we can make this work."
Planning commissioners had tabled the request to make changes to the 2007 plan at its Feb. 5 meeting. Those changes had separated residential units from retail buildings in addition to eliminating a high-rise residential tower. Developers then made additional changes.
Also at the meeting, four acres at 568 Blue Ridge Drive, previously zoned apartment-residential, were rezoned professional and nearly three acres on South Old Belair Road, previously zoned light industrial and general commercial, were rezoned general commercial.
Planning commissioners approved at the meeting a final plat for 3.31 acres of professional property on Old Fury's Ferry Road and a revision to a planned unit development at Willow Lake II on Furys Ferry Road for detached housing.
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