In discussions about the Marshall family's recently filed lawsuit against Columbia County, some insightful people have seen parallels to a suit filed 13 years ago in another zoning case.
It also holds a lesson for the current squabble because both sides lost.
In August 1996, Blanchard and Calhoun, on behalf of property owner First Union, sought rezoning of just under 2 acres on Columbia Road, next to the Kroger shopping center, for a furniture store.
Under pressure from nearby residents, commissioners rejected the request. Thirty days later, First Union sued the commission.
Their complaint came down to this: The two-acre property was zoned for apartments, but because the county had an ordinance requiring at least four acres for an apartment complex, the land was useless unless it was rezoned.
County Attorney Doug Batchelor urged commissioners to settle the suit by rezoning the site. Commissioners agreed, and three months later rezoned the site for commercial use.
Unfortunately for the owners, however, the sale to the furniture store had been contingent on the initial rezoning - and when it fell through, so did that contract.
First Union later sold the property for $200,000 to Tim Shelnut, who built The News-Times Office Park there. Then Shelnut sold the newspaper, and when we moved out three years later, he sold the park.
Fast-forward to three weeks ago. When commissioners decided to apply apartment zoning restrictions to the Marshall Square PUD zoning, the apartment developer planning to build a $40 million complex at the site pulled out. Whatever the outcome of the suit, there's no guarantee they'll come back.
In other words, Marshall could win the battle but lose the war - just as First Union did 13 years ago.
Just stand there
Where is the coolest place to stand in Columbia County? In Georgia? In the United States? In the world?
A new Web site called stoodthere.com asks visitors to post their choice for the best place - as in the most scenic - in the world to stand. And then it asks everyone to vote on them.
The site was hatched from a couple of people discussing those "100 best" lists. They decided to start such a list for places with scenic views.
It made me wonder: What are some of the best (public) places to stand in Columbia County? Here is my top 10 list, in no particular order:
- On top of Clarks Hill Dam, facing downriver.
- At the bottom (or the top) of the Martin-Marietta quarry next to the canal.
- In the courtroom of the Columbia County Courthouse in Appling.
- On top of Heggie's Rock.
- Inside the old Kiokee Baptist Church.
- Inside a cell of the old jail in Appling.
- On Germain Island at Champion's Retreat.
- At the old Evans school arch at the library.
- In front of the Wall of Honor in Grovetown.
- At the start of the canal towpath facing upriver.
What are your suggestions?
One place that wasn't particularly pleasant to stand lately was anywhere around the rural end of Columbia County with garbage service from McGahee Sanitation.
A spokesman for the company said pickups were running behind because of vehicle troubles, but that they're now back on schedule.
While waiting on the garbage truck, though, Gary Blanchard called from Winfield the other day to say that someone - he suspects unsupervised, out-of-school-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands teens - knocked over his overfilled roadside dumpster and left a huge mess in the ditch.
As I mentioned the other day, the cops have grown accustomed to an increase in bored-juvenile misbehavior during the summer - but that doesn't mean they tolerate it.
Moms and dads shouldn't put up with it, either. It's a little disturbing to think that some kids stay out of trouble only because a school is watching them. Isn't that also supposed to be their parents' job?
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail barry.paschal@newstimes online.com.
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