Augusta Prep to make case for stadium lights again

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Administrators of a Martinez private school will once again ask Columbia County commissioners today to grant them stadium lights for an athletic field.

Since April, Augusta Prep­aratory Day School has tried to expand stadium seating and add four 80- to 90-foot lightposts to the football field.

Several residents who live behind the stadium in the Spring­lakes subdivision objected to the proposed plan, saying it would cause too much noise and light pollution.

The county commission sided with Springlakes homeowners on May 17 and denied the plan revision in a 3-1 vote.

Before that meeting, all but one planning commissioner gave their approval for the stadium changes.

Planning commissioners, who again gave their recommendation for approval at an Aug. 4 meeting, recently were presented with an appeal stating that the board must wait six months before voting on stadium lighting at the school on Flowing Wells Road.

The appeal was filed by former planning commission chairman Dean Thompson, who claims wording in the zoning code requires special district requests, such as the one filed by Augusta Prep, follow a six-month wait once denied by the full commission.

County attorney Doug Batchelor said Thompson and others in favor of the appeal are misinterpreting the language in the code. The ordinance only imposes a time frame on denied rezoning applications and doesn’t address plan revisions, he said.

“We have asked another lawyer to look at this,” Batchelor said, “so he’s going to render an opinion to the board of commissioners on this same thing.”

The appeal is scheduled to be heard by planning commissioners on Aug. 22.

At the Aug. 4 meeting, Augusta Prep sought a scaled-back version of the plan, which included adding more landscaping as a buffer, reducing stadium seating from 950 to 490 seats and limiting evening events from 20 to 10 each school year.

A three-year moratorium preventing Augusta Prep from asking for additional stadium changes would also be in effect.

The commission will meet at 6 p.m. today to discuss the issue in the Columbia County Government Center auditorium on Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans.


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