Columbia County Avoided Slum Area In Its Urban Redevelopment Pl - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Columbia County Avoided Slum Area In Its Urban Redevelopment Plan

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Columbia County, GA -

 Wildbirds Unlimited has been in the West Town shopping center for ten years, the owner Ken Badke supported Columbia County's West Town Market Urban Redevelopment Plan to create incentives for developers.

"It's a benefit to all of us in Columbia County, especially in this area it filled some spaces that were empty," said Badke.

Augusta is preparing its own Urban Redevelopment Plan that includes designating the central business district a quote "slum area" and that has some downtown crying foul.

Even though the city says it's a requirement of the State Department of Community Affairs. 

 "Now the city fathers are going to declare us a slum, I can't see me if I didn't have a business downtown I wouldn't come downtown to a crime ridden slum," said Mike Walraven an Augusta business owner. 

 "I think it's much ado about nothing, at the end of the day even Columbia County has designated certain areas of there out of Washington Road a slum nobody has said anything about that," says Commissioner Alvin Mason who supports the designation.  

"No, if anybody insinuated that we designated any area in Columbia County a slum that the governing body did that would not be true it's not in any of our documents and we did not do that," said Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson.

Columbia County submitted its Urban Redevelopment Plan to the Department of Community affairs to get the Opportunity Zone designation, however Columbia County made a point of saying when it came to designating the area a slum all its documents will avoid the "use of such phrasing." 

 "For us it was a decision that we wanted to avoid certain terminology and we avoided that terminology ended up still getting an opportunity zone for Columbia County and some tax credits," says Johnson.

Jim Plunkett the attorney who prepared Augusta's Urban Development Plan says what been done is correct for the Department of Community Affairs as for taking out the term slum area he says "he hasn't been asked to do that."

There are differences in what Columbia County submitted and what Augusta is working on.

Columbia County was for an Opportunity Zone, and Augusta is to create an Urban Redevelopment Agency to issue 26 million dollars in bonds to renovate the Municipal Building.




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