COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – A study being done by Valdosta State University on the pros and cons of Columbia County possibly incorporating and consolidating some of its communities is due by Dec. 31.
Commissioners Alison Couch and Gary Richardson addressed residents’ concerns at a recent town hall meeting.
The plan would combine unincorporated communities like Evans, Martinez, Appling, Winfield and Leah into one city, then consolidate it into the county.
The study will help determine whether the idea would be possible and beneficial.
“We don’t have the study back yet so it’s really hard to go over all of the benefits,” Couch said. “There’s been talks about franchise fee collections and things of that nature, but at this time we just don’t have all of the data back on it.”
Harlem and Grovetown would still be their own cities, but some worry this could prevent these two cities from expanding.
“That would be a concern because as you know your census drives a lot of the finances that you get both from the county, the state, and the national level,” said Harlem Mayor Roxanne Whitaker. “And if we are landlocked, then that will affect our future population. I do hope they allow those that are on the cusp of city limits of both Harlem and Grovetown the option to annex in if they would like, that would be my main concern.”
While county leaders have said this will not impact the way the county is governed, other people who were at the meeting have concerns about the future.
“I think they will do their best to maintain the quality of life, the efficiency of government,” said YeSun Wilte. “But, my concern would be what happens when the current commissioners leave, and the new commissioners come in, [and] they don’t have the same vision for Columbia County?”
The study performed by Valdosta State University is due back to the county by December 31st.
Couch said once that happens, and if the action is even possible, it will have to be passed through multiple levels of government before it eventually reaches county ballots.