Owners of the site for the proposed second phase of Mullins Crossing received two blows at Thursday's Columbia County Planning Commission meeting.
The commission denied the request to table a rezoning in addition to the rezoning itself, which would change the property from general commercial to single-family residential.
"If we continue to table this matter, we're going to continue to create more and more documentation, paperwork and aggravation on everybody's part." Planning Commissioner Bob Newkirk said.
According to a meeting agenda, the Mullins family was seeking a reduction in property taxes.
Attorney John Donsbach, who was representing the Mullins family at the meeting, said a title problem, not property taxes, is the issue.
When the 22-acre parcel at 4263 Washington Road was rezoned to general commercial in 2006, the family was unaware that the property was split among estates.
"It should have come to light in (2006) when it was rezoned," Donsbach said. "The attorneys looking at it at that time should have figured this out. I don't know why that didn't happen."
The best way to resolve the title issue is if the property is zoned residential, said Donsbach. He said clearing up the title then could take about six months.
If not corrected, the title problem could create major financing problems and halt commercial development of the property, Donsbach said.
"It's going to create damages that will potentially have to (be) pursued," he said. "We're talking seven-figure type of damages with the size and value of the property.
"That's not something that they want to pursue. We would like to see a peaceful resolution, so to speak, of this situation."
Planning staffers recommended rezoning disapproval for several reasons, stating that such a zoning would create inconsistency with surrounding commercial properties and would contradict the county's growth management plan.
The development, initially expected to be anchored by Hobby Lobby, was put on hold nearly two years ago.
The planning commission, which is a recommending board, felt it was best that the item move forward to county commissioners for a legal opinion.
"We're not lawyers," said Planning Commission Chairwoman Jean Garniewicz. "We're here to just look at the problem at hand, which is changing the zoning."
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