Residents apprehensive about plans for Columbia County growth

Thursday, May 21, 2020

(Source: WRDW)

It was back to business in Columbia County on Thursday night. Items flooded the planning commission agenda, while people watched six-feet apart from a screen in the parking lot. There were a lot of plans, but also some concerns.

"The biggest thing that people want today is to know that they matter."

Lee Muns lives in Harlem, and he's concerned about one item in particular on the commission agenda, alongside these crowds of people.

A rezoning request for 834 acres near the White Oak Business park, future home of an Amazon facility.

"I'm concerned about the growth," Muns said. "Not so much in the fact that I know it's going to come, but as it comes, let's do some real smart thinking as we go through this."

The request is to rezone land north and south of I-20 to planned unit development, allowing a mix of townhomes, apartments, commercial and retail use, and with plans to bring live/work studios, parks, trails, grocery, retail and much more.

"How do we maintain the rural aspect of this part of the county?" Muns asked.

Those were many concerns, including traffic. Many asked commissioners to table the request since some people couldn’t make it to the meeting due to COVID-19.

"Just now many parts of the county are opening back up and we have a significant group of our population in the county who do not feel safe to come out," one resident at the meeting said.

Lionel Prather, the owner of the land says this project is his legacy and plans to phase out development over 20 to forty years. And commissioners agree -- change is coming.

The 834 acres will join the previously approved 230 acres Greenpoint property that's already under construction.

This does surround some schools in the area, but the Board of Education said they have no problem with the project and that they believe they can support the growth.

The request will now go before the board of commissioners at the next meeting for final approval.

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