After a temporary, six-month moratorium on high-density housing in 2015, Columbia County leaders have unanimously approved the creation of a new residential zoning district for compact neighborhoods. However, Columbia County continues to take a hard stance against townhomes and compact neighborhoods and is instead shifting more towards high-end housing. Columbia County has granted preliminary approval for three upscale developments consisting of at least 130 single-family lots.
One approved (possibly gated) community was approved for 59 single-family lots spreading over 55 acres off Furys Ferry and Hardy McManus Road. The county's planning services director, Andrew Strickland, stated that if the developer purchases additional land near Riverside Park, the proposal could increase to as many as 83 lots over 70 acres, each with a minimum price point of $400,000.
Some argue that the moratorium favors luxury-style homes over subdivisions where houses are more closely grouped together, have smaller yards and a common area for recreation.
The Columbia County Commission passed the final reading for a Planned Residential Development district that will replace townhome and cluster housing zones with guidelines aimed at creating “more coherent and coordinated” communities.
Under the new standard, side setbacks will be doubled to 10 feet, at least 10 percent of a development must be preserved as open space, townhomes are required to have garages and all streets must interconnect, with cul-de-sacs reserved for “exceptional situations.”
Jim Cox, the planning commission chairman, said before the county passed the moratorium, developers could cram up to 200 homes within 5 feet of each other – preventing small slivers of land on the side of properties from draining and utility crews from getting repair equipment between units.
Strickland said the proposal to double side setback requirements was “a significant upgrade” and should help the county better accommodate the 3,700 cyber defense workers coming to Fort Gordon by 2019.