Planning Commission OK’s Industrial Zoning

Commissioners Blast Council as ‘Anti-Business’

BLYTHEWOOD – The Planning Commission voted unanimously on Monday evening to recommend that Town Council adopt a new Limited Industrial (LI[2]) zoning district for the Town. The zoning was proposed last month by Richland County’s Director of Economic Development, Nelson Lindsay. But before the Commissioners voted, two of them took the opportunity to express publicly their frustration with Town Council, with one repeatedly labeling it anti-business.

When Malcolm Gorge, the Commission Chairman, asked if there were any questions regarding the rezoning, Commissioner Don Sanders, newly appointed by Town Council said, “It (the proposed zoning) boils down to providing more flexibility and opportunity for manufacturing so I don’t want to make a political statement about what I think about the Town Council, but I will say the details to address this (zoning district) would result in nominal setbacks and parking provisions. That seems like not a threatening thing to me,” Sanders said.

When earlier discussing the proposed rezoning of Cobblestone Park and Council’s call for a traffic study for certain roadways connecting to the neighborhood, Commissioner Mike Switzer said, “That whole traffic study thing is ridiculous. If (the developer) reduces the head count by 500, plus the road is going to be widened (through the Penny Tax road projects), for the topic of traffic to even be brought up is ridiculous. It’s anti-business. The Town Council is anti-business.”

Switzer also said that Council’s expressed concern about the location and sizes of swimming pools to be built by D.R. Horton in the new section of Cobblestone Park that were not related to the rezoning was “just another example of their (Council’s) anti-business attitude.” Switzer went on to say, “I think Council knows how we feel.”

When Lindsay proposed the LI(2) zoning category for the Town to the Commission last month, he said it would assure there are sites suitable for companies to locate in Richland County. He said the LI(2) zoning classification would bridge the gap between the Town’s current Limited Industrial Zoning District and the heavier Basic Industrial Zoning District. At that meeting, the proposal was tabled for further study after Switzer questioned whether some of the listed permitted industries, such as tire manufacturing and textile mills, might be considered heavy rather than limited manufacturing.

Gorge told the Commission that the zoning they voted to recommend to Council was for the text amendment only and would establish the zoning category for the town, but it was explained at the meeting last month that the target of the proposed zoning is a 663-acre area bounded by I-77, Locklear Road, Ashley Oaks subdivision and Northpoint Industrial Park. Gorge said that to apply that zoning to land, however, “we will have to also adopt a zoning map amendment.”

The Commission’s recommendation for the proposed zoning will now go to the Town Council on Feb. 23 for a first vote.

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