Rimer Pond Road Vote Delayed

COLUMBIA – After a large crowd of residents from Rimer Pond Road, LongCreek Plantation, Eagles Glenn and Coopers Pond showed up at a Richland County Council public hearing on Tuesday night to protest the rezoning of a 5.23-acre parcel on the road for commercial use, County Council Chairman Torrie Rush called for the meeting to be deferred until Tuesday, May 26, saying he wanted to give the developer, Sycamore Development, the chance to meet privately with the residents before Council voted on the issue.

Rush also asked the residents to write their names, addresses and emails on a signup sheet outside the chambers before leaving the building so the developer could get in touch with them.

The sale of the property, which is located across the road from Blythewood Middle School, is being handled by commercial real estate broker Patrick Palmer, Director of Retail Services for NAI Avant Commercial Real Estate in Columbia. Palmer is also Chairman of the Richland County Planning Commission, and his father, Hugh A. Palmer, is listed with the S.C. Secretary of State as the registered agent for the property. Patrick Palmer recused himself from voting during the April 6 Planning Commission meeting.

Rush said another reason he was having the residents come back to Council for the May meeting was so he could have time to read the minutes of the April 6 County Planning Commission meeting to learn why the Commissioners, who are appointed by the Council, voted against the commercial zoning after the County’s planning department staff had recommended it.

Palmer is requesting Rural Commercial (RC) zoning, which includes more than 200 permitted commercial uses on the property including grocery stores, convenience stores with gas pumps, liquor stores, restaurants and drug stores.

The County’s official summary of the zoning district in the meeting agenda packet stated that the purpose of a Rural Commercial zoning district is to “recognize the need to provide for areas within Richland County where residents of the more isolated agricultural and rural residential districts and residents located beyond the limits of service of the municipalities can receive convenience merchandising and services.”

It further stated that the Rural Commercial zoning district was “designed to be located at or near intersections of arterial and/or major collector roads . . .”

Commissioner Beverly Frierson, one of four commissioners who voted against the commercial zoning, argued that the Rimer Pond Road/LongCreek Plantation area surrounding the proposed commercial zoning is not isolated or located beyond the limits of service.

“They are already well served by commercial conveniences,” Frierson said.

Commissioner Heather Carnes agreed, saying, “If all it takes is an intersection for there to be commercial development in what is an otherwise totally rural area, I’m sort of horrified.”

Council will hold the first of three votes following the public hearing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 6 at the Richland County building at 2020 Hampton St. in Columbia. Residents along Rimer Pond Road share information about the zoning issue at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-It-Rural/298240514708. Palmer can be reached at 803-744-9853.


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