Planning Commission denies rezoning request

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News 12 at 11, December 6, 2007

EVANS, Ga. --- The Columbia County Planning Commission voted to deny a request to rezone some land owned by a local judge. The Board of Commissioners will make the final decision.

A huge turnout at Thursday's meeting. More than 200 people showed up and the line was out the door to the sidewalk. The majority of the crowd was wearing red to show unity and opposition to the re-zoning.

The Blanchard family wants the land in front of the residential area on Blanchard Road to be re-zoned for commercial and professional use. That would establish a commercial zone in a residential area, which is against the county's own zoning code.

"As a neighbor and a resident in the area...completely 100% against it. It goes against Columbia County's Growth Management Plan. It goes against the demographics of the area," Lee Goolsby said.

The site is at the entrance of Blanchard Woods Park. That's a two-lane road with a children's park in the area. Property owners said it's not a good plan for the rest of the community and they came with signs, "Save Blanchard Road" and "Vote No More Businesses On Blanchard Road."

"The residents in the area feel like we do not need any kind of business in that area. It's a residential area, the park is going to go in there," Jim Truitt said.

Neighbors are worried about having shopping centers in their back yard and said it will create parking lots, bright lights, and traffic. They're also concerned about lower property values.

"People are very concerned about this. They do not want it. It's our neighborhood. We have a beautiful neighborhood. It's colorful, people are friendly. We just do not want any commercial property on Blanchard Road," Truitt said.

In the end, the Columbia County Planning Commission voted to deny the Blanchard's request for the re-zoning. Neighbors said they're somewhat relieved but are still preparing for the next commission meeting.

"If it can happen here, it can happen any place in Columbia County. We need to stop it now," Truitt said.

It's not a done deal. The final step will be on December 18, when the Board of Commissioners will make the final decision on whether to approve or deny the rezoning.

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