Columbus County commissioners held a public hearing Monday night to talk about rezoning in the Southeastern Community College area to clear the way for an asphalt plant to be built.
They voted 4-3 in favor of rezoning, meaning Barnhill Contracting can move forward with construction plans on the 18-acre property a quarter mile east of the Midway Road-Georgia Pacific Road intersection.
Barnhill has to get development permits (air quality, stormwater, etc.) from the state before breaking ground.
Economic Development Director Gary Lanier said the plant will create 30-35 jobs and construction could be complete by the end of the summer.
Much like they did at a previous commissioners meeting, residents on Monday said they didn’t want to live near a plant because of noise and traffic concerns.
In April, a landowner contacted the county and said Barnhill Contracting wanted to build the plant on his land.
Two-thirds of the land is labeled for light industrial use, hence the need for it to be rezoned as heavy industrial use to allow for the plant. One-third is labeled for general use.
County leaders told the landowner he had to ask for a zoning map for it to be changed, so he did.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Amon McKenzie said prior to the meeting that commissioners want to hear both sides of the story, and that the health and welfare of citizens are important to them.
“We owe it to our people each and every time to bring them forward, listen to their ideas, and we also encourage those who are out there who are pro, if you’re for it, come and talk about it," McKenzie said. "If you’re against it, do the same thing. We need to know so we can make a decision.”
McKenzie said he understood the residents’ concerns, but he also sees the other side of the argument: the creation of jobs for the county.
“We need business in Columbus County and we need good business in Columbus County, safe business for our folks as well as everything else, so any business that comes along, we don’t want to cheat ourselves out of being able to at least hear what they have to say,” he said.
WECT asked the landowner for comment. He said he didn't want to say anything until after the meeting Monday night.
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