A committee tasked with guiding a revision of Columbia County's growth-management plan met Tuesday to discuss growth on commercial corridors and urban revitalization efforts.
"We really want to be careful about what we allow outside the (commercial) nodes in order to allow them to flourish the best they can," said county Planner Dave Van De Weghe, who led the meeting of the Growth Management Plan Steering Committee.
The growth management plan serves as a guide for development in the county, and Columbia County's plan uses nodes to designate areas of intensified commercial growth as a means of minimizing urban sprawl. State law requires an update to the plan each five years.
About a dozen members of the citizen steering committee, consisting mostly of county staff and officials, discussed ideas and concerns about the county's future growth for nearly two hours.
Van De Weghe initiated the dialogue by addressing challenges to growth on corridors between nodes.
Those challenges, he said, include redeveloping small residential lots on busy roadways and reducing excessive business entrances that slow traffic at areas like Washington Road at Bobby Jones Expressway.
To reduce the number of access points on congested roads, committee members debated several ideas, which included adding a frontage road or constructing a median to control traffic.
The committee also expressed concern with the types of land uses allowed along county corridors, where industrial and heavy commercial development is discouraged. Corridors are assigned a different tier level depending on the intensity of allowed development.
"The solution we came up with was really to come up with some sort of incentive for developers to purchase these properties, invest in them and redevelop them," Van De Weghe said.
Commercial land could be permitted outside nodes, for instance, in a mixed-use development if the county added certain concessions to the site plan.
Participants at the meeting also discussed revitalizing the Martinez area.
"I think it's going to have to be done in different stages, different phases and different ideas on how people can get this stuff working," Development Services Director Richard Harmon said. "There are types of things you can play with to make it work."
The steering committee this month might receive a draft of the update. The revised plan must be adopted by Feb. 28.
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