Council Reviews Zoning Proposal

Councilmen Ask for Cobblestone Traffic Study

BLYTHEWOOD – Although the proposed zoning amendment to Cobblestone Park’s Planned Development District (PDD) got the green light from the Planning Commission last October, Town Council at their Dec. 22 meeting told engineers working for developer DR Horton that traffic along Blythewood Road remains a concern.

DR Horton’s plan, approved by the Planning Commission, reduces the total number of dwelling units from the previously approved 1,250 to 1,142. It also includes placing five model homes at the site of the old tennis courts at the entrance to the subdivision off Blythewood Road. But the proposal increases the number of single family homes in the Primrose section by 144 over the existing 380, by constructing them on what originally had been planned as the 9-hole golf course.

During the Dec. 22 meeting, Councilman Tom Utroska said that before Council votes on the recommendation in January, he would like to see a traffic study.

“(A traffic study) doesn’t prohibit you from doing anything; it just tells you if what you’re trying to do is feasible,” Utroska said. “I can’t speak for the Council but I am for sure concerned about it because I see the traffic backed up over there every morning and I know ya’ll do too.”

Councilman Bob Mangone agreed, but Andrew Allen with the Thomas Hutton engineering firm said such a study would likely be superfluous.

“I think we all know what a traffic study is going to say,” Allen said. “It’s going to say Blythewood Road should be widened, and that’s not a project that’s ever going to be able to be funded by DR Horton. That project is included in the Richland County penny sales tax right now, so we all know what a traffic study is going to say, it’s going to say widen Blythewood Road. We don’t have the ability, the skills and the wherewithal to require a private developer to do that.”

Utroska disagreed.

“I don’t know what a traffic study is going to say,” Utroska said. “It may say you need to have a separate entrance or you need to widen the entrance. I don’t know what it would say. That’s the reason why you do a study. If I knew that we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Maybe you know it better than I do.”

Councilman Eddie Baughman, meanwhile, asked Allen if DR Horton had secured the necessary water taps from the Town of Winnsboro to make the build-out a reality. Earlier in the meeting, Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy brought Blythewood up to speed on Winnsboro’s long-term plans for securing an adequate water supply to support growth in northeastern Richland County. During his presentation, Gaddy said that until a new water line could be installed to bring water in from the Broad River, which would not become a reality until at least 2017, developers would have to phase in projects.

“The days of (developers) coming and saying we need 500 taps and we’re going to give them to you are over,” Gaddy said. “You come and tell us what your phases are. You’re not going to build it all at once. You’re not going to sell it all at once. And we’re not going to sell all the taps at once. Tell us what you need from Winnsboro for the first year or two, or for the first 180 days. And what do you need after that? We’ll look at that and we’ll guarantee you what we can.”

Allen told Council that the Cobblestone project was a 5- to 10-year plan. With 2017 as the target date for Broad River water, Allen said the proposed build-out should be in the clear.