Against the Variance

The owners of a 10-acre plot at the entrance to LongCreek Plantation have requested a zoning change from a Planned Development District (PDD) reserved for church only to a Residential, Single Family, Medium Density district.

The request designates the 10 acres as a Rural district but the county map defines it as a PDD.

The property owners are the Presbyterian Church in Columbia. The property was donated a few years ago to the church by the previous owner, Fairways Development, the general developer for LongCreek Plantation.

The plan was to build a church there.  The church was built on Langford Road. Now the church senior leaders in Columbia want to sell the property. But no other church folks are interested.

The property at the time was valued at $250,000 and the tax consequences are apparent, one of which is that the county no longer receives tax revenue from the property because it is church-owned.

Community residents are fearful of the real estate agent’s intent since he actively pushed for a proposed change to this lot last year as part of the major effort to have a PDD instituted in that location.

That effort failed at the County Planning Commission level and was withdrawn by the developer before the County Council acted on the request.

Changing the zoning district to medium density is a major variance from a RURAL density district and also from adjacent zoning areas that are mostly low density.

The worry is that once one part of the area is zoned medium density, it will be easier for the Rural density property up and down Longtown Road to be changed accordingly. This would affect the character of the community especially since it is at the entrance to the development and sets the tone for buyers, visitors, etc.

The community is opposing the request.

Sam Brick

LongCreek resident