Discussion concerning an appeal about light pole heights prompted Columbia County planning commissioners on Thursday to request an ordinance change about lighting for all future commercial developments.
Developers of the shopping center anchored by a Food Lion on Furys Ferry Road sought an appeal that would allow light poles on the site's parking lot to remain at their current height, which is about 9 feet shorter than the county's requirements.
During a recent site meeting, members of the county's planning staff noticed that light poles on the property didn't meet the Node Protection Overlay District's code requirements.
A lighting plan had been submitted, but the requirements were overlooked by both the developers and the county.
"This was purely an oversight," said Matt Mills of project developers Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial. "We focused all of our efforts on architecture and making it the best-looking shopping center that we possibly could."
Mills said he agreed to lower the light fixture on the rear portion of the property.
"I think at the end of the day, it would be a more attractive development with less poles," he said.
He estimated that adding six light poles, which would be required to meet safety standards, would cost at least $50,000.
"There were oversights not on just the builders' part, but on the county's part as well," said Planning Commissioner Jim Cox. "It's difficult for me to sit here, particularly in the (economic) environment we're in now, and penalize the builder."
The Planning and Zoning Board approved the request and also asked the county's planning staff to look at making a specific ordinance for lighting and changing the NPOD ordinance.
Also at the meeting, a multipurpose center planned for the Columbia County Fairgrounds moved one step closer to construction.
Planning commissioners approved a request to revise the property's special-district zoning, allowing for the open-air structure.
A partnership between the county and the Columbia County Merchants Association is in the works, said Barry Smith, director of the county's Community and Leisure Services Division.
The fairgrounds are on about 59.5 acres on Columbia Road, and the structure would be owned by the county and managed by the county's Rental Facilities and Venues Department.
The 60,000- to 70,000-square-foot facility is estimated to seat about 6,000 people.
The public could rent the structure for both indoor and outdoor events. The building will be designed so that a roof could be added in the future, Smith said.
"Unfortunately, we don't have a facility in Columbia County that can bring in out-of-town visitation ... hopefully, this facility will bring people regionally to this area, which will impact the hotel/motel tax as well as retail spending," he said.
Smith said the project is estimated to cost about $2.3 million with funding coming from the Special-Purpose, Local-option Sales Tax and could be finished by next year.
The planning and zoning board also approved a rezoning request from single-family residential to planned unit development on about 13 acres between Avery Avenue and Jessie Road in Martinez.
The proposed subdivision would consist of 72 lots for single-family detached homes.
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