Perhaps it's time for some Columbia County officials to take Rezoning 101.
If such a class existed, it would be brief; maybe it even could be called Rezoning for Dummies. In essence, it would tell those officials: Approve a rezoning request only if you are OK with any and all of the potential uses allowed for a property in that new zone. If you aren't, turn it down.
That's elementary stuff, but this lesson seems necessary because of the way the County Commission bounced back and forth with Eric Crawford's request to rezone 3 acres of Evans land from residential to general commercial.
Lay aside concerns about spot zoning and sprawl; that's for a different discussion. In this case, the maddening factor is that county commissioners insist Crawford first tell them who's buying the property, and for what purpose, before they'll fully consider the rezoning.
Here's the only answer to that question they ever need: It's the list of all permitted uses for the various zones in the county's ordinances. They probably have a copy handy, so it shouldn't be hard to look it up.
The C-2 General Commercial zoning allows the owner to operate everything from an adult bookstore (in certain areas) to a wholesale distribution center. The long list of permitted uses includes truck stops, funeral homes, day care centers, convenience stores, laundromats, hotels and shopping centers.
Once a property is rezoned, a future owner can open whatever he or she wants on the site as long as it's on the list of permitted uses. Commissioners are painfully short-sighted if they grant any rezoning because they happen to like the immediate plans for the property; a future owner of the site is under no obligation to stick to a similar use.
Planning commissioners know that, and earlier recommend rejection of Crawford's rezoning request because they don't think it fits the county's growth management plan.
County commissioners likewise should not care one bit about who plans at the moment to hang out a shingle on a new site. If they're equally OK with a church or a liquor store, a veterinary office or a restaurant - all of which are permitted uses under C-2 zoning - then they should OK the request. If not? Reject it. It's as simple as that.
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