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Rezoning request sent back to board

Posted: Sunday, February 07, 2010

Columbia County commissioners tabled a vote on the rezoning of property on Washington Road on Tuesday and sent the issue back to the planning and zoning board.

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Applicant Eric Crawford had asked for a commercial rezoning for residential lots at 4515 and 4521 Washington Road in Evans.

Planning board members recommended last month that commissioners deny the request because the lots are outside the Evans Town Center node as detailed in the Growth Management Plan, and because there was no immediate buyer for the property.

Crawford told commissioners Tuesday that he now has a buyer, contingent upon approval of the commercial zoning.

"This is a property that can never be used for anything but commercial," said Crawford, noting that the lots are surrounded by commercial enterprises such as Ace Hardware and a KFC restaurant.

Crawford said he didn't know the potential buyer's intended use for the properties.

Commissioners requested that Crawford again take the rezoning issue up with planning commissioners once he has learned how the properties might be used.

Also on Tuesday, commissioners decided to seek a partnership with other area counties to expand broadband access.

Commissioners committed $9,600 to fund a study and pay application fees to hopefully receive a federal grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administra-tion.

Officials are seeking the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program grant as part of a joint venture with Burke, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, Warren, Washington and Wilkes counties.

The grant would be used to increase broadband and wireless Internet access in those counties. Funded by the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the grants would be used to create jobs and provide infrastructure for broadband services for underserved areas of the United States.

The counties' potential earnings from such a grant was not immediately disclosed.

The technical study and application fees actually cost $32,000 per county, but the counties are receiving funding support from the CSRA Regional Commission and CSRA Unified Development Authority to cover some of those costs.

Grant applications are due March 15 and McDuffie County will act as the fiscal agent, meaning they'll collect the payments from the participating counties, according to commission documents.

Columbia County also is seeking a BTOP grant on its own.

The application was filed last year and officials still are waiting to learn if they qualify for the $10-15 million grant, Deputy Administrator Scott Johnson said.

In other grant news, commissioners voted to accept a more than $224,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation to improve public transportation.

The stimulus money will be used to purchase three new 15-passenger vans, a wheelchair lift, dispatching software, GPS monitors, security cameras, a radio system and more.



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