Planning Commission Tweaks Proposed Zoning for Some Blythewood Businesses

The Blythewood Planning Commission met on Tuesday night to address concerns expressed by some business owners over town hall’s proposed zoning restrictions on commercial properties located in downtown Blythewood – an area that Council has designated to become a Town Center District.

At a recent public hearing for the proposed zoning changes, several business owners said the new ordinance would negatively affect their businesses in the long term.

Under the proposed ordinance some current businesses, like the town’s new Palmetto Gold and Pawn would become non-conforming businesses. That means, should the pawn shop decide to move to a different location in the district, expand or rebuild, it would not be allowed to do so.

At the Nov. 19 public hearing, a co-owner of the Blythewood Gold and Pawn, Victor Kocher, said his business was in the same category as businesses like antique stores and consignment shops which are allowed under the proposed zoning ordinance. He said he felt his business should somehow be exempted from the ordinance just as antique stores and consignment shops are exempted.

The Planning Commission agreed with Kocher on Tuesday night and voted to recommend that pawn shops be included in the same classification as consignment and antique shops which are allowed outright.

Another business owner who told Town Council that he would be negatively impacted by the ordinance, Dwayne Bohannon, owner of the Storage Express on Community Road, also objected to the zoning changes. At the Planning Commission meeting, Town Administrator John Perry told the Commissioners that Bohannon was in the middle of an expansion plan that would eliminate his current outdoor storage. Under the proposed zoning, Bohannon would be prohibited from continuing this expansion.

The Commission voted to re-route the zoning boundary around the storage business’s property to exclude it from the Town Center District.

No other changes to the proposed zoning ordinance were recommended by the Commission. The Commission’s recommendations now go to Town Council for a second and final vote, possibly at the December Town Council meeting. The public will again have the opportunity to address Council before that vote.

In other business, the Commission recommended that Council pass a reworked and combined Tree and Landscape ordinance.

In his staff report, Perry said he was looking into pursuing charging a fee in lieu of a court appearance for violations of some of the Town’s ordinances. In the past, all violations of Town ordinances had to be resolved in court.

Perry said he was also looking at proposing a noise ordinance and a mobile sign ordinance for the town. He also said he would propose that residents seeking approval for certain types of home businesses be approved at town hall rather than go before the Board of Zoning Appeal for an exception. Under such a proposal, Perry said the resident business owner would come to Town Hall, pay a fee and obtain a business license.

The next Town Council meeting will be held on Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Blythewood Community Center on Blythewood Road across from the Food Lion shopping area.

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