COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Controversy continues over gas stations and truck stops in Columbia County.
Residents we spoke to said they feel blindsided by the commissioners’ decision to reconsider, and approve a variance at their latest meeting for a 24-hour Parker’s Kitchen on Lewiston and Columbia Roads.
“To us, it just didn’t seem it was done properly,” said Nancy Brown, who is opposed to the decision. “The vote had been taken, we even had petitions, that in one weeks time we had right at a hundred signatures.”
The request was denied at the July 18th commission meeting, but Board Chair Doug Duncan brought it back for reconsideration at their latest meeting because he said he got confused and voted wrongly.
“If you’re not paying attention and don’t know what’s being voted on and you’re a commissioner, maybe that’s not the best thing in the world,” Brown said. “Also, maybe there’s so many gas stations, you’re confused on how many gas stations you’re voting on.”
Under its official code, the county is allowed to reconsider a decision at the same meeting it was voted at or the following meeting.
The reconsideration was on the latest meeting’s agenda, but people we spoke to said it could’ve been advertised better, especially because there’s so much opposition to it.
“That’s very concerning. You have a final vote, and we leave thinking that it’s done, and then we find out that it was put on unfinished business,” said Beth Connell. “Which I don’t understand how it went on unfinished business, so even if you were reviewing the agenda, you wouldn’t have noticed it was there.”
They’re also confused about why the variance is needed.
The Lewiston Express, across from where the Parker’s Kitchen will be, follows county ordinances by being open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The county’s variance application states that the county ordinance must deprive the applicant of any reasonable use of their land to get a variance, and that loss in value will not justify one.
Brown agrees with Commissioner Couch and Commissioner Melear’s reasons for voting against it.
“Their whole reasoning was the argument that this did not impede Parker’s being open and making a living, they did not need to be open 24 hours,” she said.
No date for opening has been set for the Parker’s Kitchen on Lewiston and Columbia Roads, but there is one set to open next year at Windsor Spring and Tobacco Roads in Augusta.