New Delay in Rimer Pond Road Epic

BLYTHEWOOD – In yet another twist in the Rimer Pond Road commercial zoning saga, the Richland County planning staff has now called for a 30-day deferral of a County Council Public Hearing for the proposed rezoning of a 5.23-acre parcel on the road.

The rezoning request for Rural Commercial (RC) zoning on the property was made by Patrick Palmer, the Chairman of Richland County Planning Commission and broker for the sale of the 5.23 acres. The residents in the area, which has no commercial zoning, have rallied against the proposed zoning. It is the second 30-day deferral of the public hearing for the rezoning request in as many months. The two deferrals are in addition to a 30-day deferral at the Planning Commission level earlier this month in a related matter in connection with the proposed rezoning.

Residents along the road who oppose commercial zoning on their otherwise rural road say they feel the delays are tactics that favor the applicant (Palmer), giving him more time to secure votes on County Council for his rezoning request.

“It’s not right to put the residents through maneuvers that favor the applicant. If he (Palmer) had wanted to meet with us he could have,” said Trey Hair who has been a spokesperson for the residents. “If he has the votes on Council, why does he keep delaying the vote another 30 days?”

Palmer requested the rezoning of the property from Medium Density Residential (RS-MD) to Rural Commercial (RC) at the April 6 meeting of the Richland County Planning Commission. The County’s planning staff (employees) recommended the rezoning be approved by the Planning Commission. But Commission members found fault with the request as it related to provisions of the zoning ordinance and voted 4-1 to recommend denial of the request to County Council.

A public hearing and first vote was scheduled for the April 27 County Council meeting. Without allowing the residents to speak at the hearing, County Council Chairman Torrey Rush moved to defer the request until May 26 to allow the applicant to meet with residents who opposed the commercial zoning. Rush said he also wanted to find out why the Planning Commission voted against the staff’s recommendation for commercial zoning for the property. He told the large crowd of residents attending the meeting that they would be allowed to address the issue at the May 26 meeting.

But when the agenda for the May 26 County Council meeting was made available to the public on May 11, the Rimer Pond Road zoning item was no longer on the agenda. When contacted by The Voice, Richland County Boards & Committees Coordinator Suzi Haynes said the meeting had been deferred by staff until the June Council meeting.

The Voice left a message for County’s Deputy Planning Director/Zoning Administrator Geonard Price who did not return the phone call but responded through Haynes with the message that the applicant (Palmer) had asked the staff to defer the public hearing so that he could meet with the residents. Haynes said that since Palmer’s request was made 15 days before the May 26 public hearing as required, that staff decided to administratively defer the hearing.

While Palmer has told The Voice that he is not one of the principals of Sycamore Development, Inc. which owns the property, he will not say who the principals are. His father, Hugh A. Palmer, is listed as the registered agent for Sycamore Development, Inc. A flyer sent by Palmer to prospective buyers of the 5.23 acres lists the sales price at $350,000 per acre.


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