Planning Commission Takes Up Zoning Guidelines

Decision Could Impact Rimer Pond Road Question

BLYTHEWOOD – An agenda item that could affect a rezoning request for Rural Commercial (RC) zoning on 5.23 acres on Rimer Pond Road is scheduled to be discussed and voted on Monday during the meeting of the Richland County Planning Commission.

At issue is the wording of the ‘summary’ paragraph that appeared on the Commission’s agenda for the Rural Commercial (RC) zoning request. The ‘summary’ serves as a guideline for how the County staff makes recommendations on zoning requests to the County Planning Commission, which in turn makes recommendations on zoning requests to County Council, the chamber where zoning requests ultimately become law or die.

When the request for commercial zoning on Rimer Pond Road came before the Commission on April 6, residents along Rimer Pond Road showed up at the meeting to protest that, among other things, the summary’s guidelines for where to establish Rural Commercial (RC) zoning are flawed and should not be applied to Rimer Pond Road. Several members of the Planning Commission agreed, pointing out that while the opening sentence of the summary states that the RC district is suitable for “residents of the more isolated agricultural and rural residential districts and residents located beyond the limits of service of the municipalities,” another section of the summary sates, “the RC district is proposed to be within or adjacent to residential neighborhoods.”

Commissioners Heather Carnes and Beverly Frierson said the two sections are not consistent, convincing the Commission to balk at the staff’s recommendation that favored the request for Rural Commercial zoning on the road. The Commission voted 4-1 against what would become, if it were granted, the first commercial zoning on the road.

The zoning request with a recommendation for denial was subsequently sent to the County Council for a public hearing and first vote on April 27, but was deferred by the Council chairman until May 26. In the meantime, the ‘Summary of Rural Commercial (RC)’ popped up on the agenda for the May 5 Planning Commission meeting as an action (vote) item. But when the Commission met on May 5, Chairman Patrick Palmer, who is also the broker for the 5.3 acres on Rimer Pond Road for which Rural Commercial (RC) zoning is requested, asked to have the item deferred until the June 7 Planning Commission meeting because he said he had another appointment and would have to leave the meeting before the item came up. The deferment was granted.

While Palmer has told The Voice that he is not an owner of the property, which he has listed at $350,000 per acre, Palmer’s father, Hugh A. Palmer, is listed on the S.C. Secretary of State’s website as the registered agent for Sycamore Development, Inc., and Sycamore Development, Inc. is listed as the owner of the property.

“As it stands currently,” Rimer Pond Road resident Trey Hair told The Voice, “the summary favors our position against commercial zoning being brought into our area. Rural Commercial is not appropriate for our area.”

Hair said he fears, however, that the summary could be changed to favor the developer in the case of the commercial request on Rimer Pond Road. To take advantage of such a change, the developer would have to start over with his request and bring it back to the Planning Commission for a recommendation, Suzi Haynes, Coordinator of Richland County Planning and Development Services told The Voice last month.

The Planning Commission meets at 1 p.m. on Monday, at the County building at 2020 Hampton St. in Columbia. For more information or to receive an agenda and packet, contact Haynes at 803-576-2176.


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