Columbus moving quickly to develop new steep slope rules

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, February 21, 2008

The planning board last week set a special meeting for Thursday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss steep slope regulations.Planning board members are studying Jackson County&squo;s steep slope ordinance, which is much more specific and restrictive than Columbus&squo; current regulations. The board aims to submit a recommendation to the Columbus Town Council for the town&squo;s March meeting.Planning board members last Thursday said they are very concerned about getting regulations in place before the town receives plans for Foster Creek Preserve, located off Houston Rd. between Columbus and Mill Spring. The development, previously called the Promontory at Tryon, was originally proposed to have about 850 lots on close to 1,000 acres. But the developer withdrew that plan and began working on a new one.A Foster Creek representative said developers hope to submit a new master plan to the town by the end of March. The representative also said new regulations shouldn&squo;t affect the new plans as the development wants to adhere to all regulations and work with the town.Planning board member Susan Johann said she would feel better if new steep slope regulations were approved before Foster Creek submits new plans because of the size of the subdivision. Johann said she heard Chocolate Drop developers make promises and &uot;look at it.&uot; She says she doesn&squo;t want another Chocolate Drop situation in Columbus.Johann and others also discussed sediment control plans. Columbus doesn&squo;t have its own sediment control plan but rather relies on the state&squo;s regulations.&uot;The state didn&squo;t protect us with Chocolate Drop or The Sanctuary,&uot; Johann said. &uot;So, we&squo;ve got to protect ourselves here. The more quickly we move on this the happier people will be.&uot;If the planning board recommends a draft ordinance to town council next Thursday, the soonest the town could hold a public hearing would be in March. The town council will have to give final approval to a new ordinance.

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