For downtown Augusta, it's a rejection of the designation as a "slum area".
"I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of the business owners downtown and they are totally against the designation of downtown Augusta as a slum," says Commissioner Bill Fennoy, who represents the area.
But, Augusta Commissioners will vote next week on an Urban Redevelopment Plan that includes designating downtown a "slum area".
But, 2 years ago, Columbia County approved its own Urban Redevelopment plan for the area around West Town Shopping Center, and unlike Augusta, in the two resolutions approved by the Columbia County Commission, the term "slum area" does not appear.
"Our commission wasn't willing to compromise that or use those key words or trigger words because we didn't feel like it fit for us," says Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson.
But right now, the term "slum area" is fitted into the city's Urban Redevelopment plan.
"I think we should take it out, it should have never been put in there in the first place," says Commissioner Marion Williams, whose district also includes downtown.
"I don't know why that verbiage was left in there, especially when it could have been taken out," added Fennoy.
Commissioners have had just one discussion on the redevelopment plan and the "slum area" designation. Lawyers put the term in there, now Commissioners say they want to see if it can come out.
"I will make a motion in this coming week for our bond attorneys to go back and re-draft that and let's see if we can get the designation without using a derogatory term," says Commissioner Donnie Smith. "You will say, if we can take it out let's take it out?" we asked. "I certainly will and I will present that at the Commission," said Smith.
Attorney Jim Plunkett, who's assisting the city on the issue, says if the motion passes to remove the phrase he will need to review the state statute to determine if it can be done, and would it impact the city issuing the bonds to renovate the Augusta Municipal Building.
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