Rezoning Request Withdrawn

Blythewood Mayor J. Michael Ross greets Blythewood residents and shakes hands with Michael Watts as he arrives at Richland County Council chambers on Tuesday evening to support opposition to commercial zoning proposed on Rimer Pond Road. Seated in the front row, from left: Mary Lee, Micahel Watts and Joanna Weitzel.

Blythewood Mayor J. Michael Ross greets Blythewood residents and shakes hands with Michael Watts as he arrives at Richland County Council chambers on Tuesday evening to support opposition to commercial zoning proposed on Rimer Pond Road. Seated in the front row, from left: Mary Lee, Micahel Watts and Joanna Weitzel.

COLUMBIA – After months of meetings and postponed meetings related to an effort by commercial real estate agent Patrick Palmer to rezone 5.23 acres on Rimer Pond Road for commercial use, many residents of Rimer Pond Road, LongCreek Plantation, Eagles Glen, Seton Ridge and Cooper’s Pond who opposed the rezoning breathed a sigh of relieve Tuesday night when Palmer officially withdrew his application.

Some Richland County Council members told residents in private prior to the meeting that Palmer did not have the votes he needed on Council. Palmer did not return phone calls from The Voice before press time.

The issue was scheduled for first vote by Council Tuesday night following a public hearing that was well attended by a crowd of residents opposing the rezoning. Among those who signed up to speak against it was Blythewood Mayor J. Michael Ross who had earlier in the day sent an email to all the County Council members asking them to “not compromise the residential areas around (Rimer Pond Road) and our middle school by allowing such uses as a gas station, pizza joint, etc. to locate there.”

“I know this is not in the Town of Blythewood,” Ross continued, “but if you go to the end of Rimer Pond Road, it is Blythewood. You may remember in our Master Plan that was developed about five years ago, we included a small commercial hub at the end (of Rimer Pond Road). Well, that went over like a lead brick and brought people from out of the woods on Rimer Pond Road,” Ross wrote. “We have since focused on our Town Center District, letting that be the Town’s primary commercial district and Rimer Pond remain residential.”

As the crowd of residents took their seats before the meeting started, several Council members, including Joyce Dickerson, who formerly represented the Blythewood area, stepped down from the Council platform and into the audience to shake hands and reminisce about previous trips the Rimer Pond Road group had made to Council chambers in recent years to oppose commercial zoning on the road.

Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson who formerly represented Blythewood on County Council visits with Blythewood residents who attended Tuesday night’s Council meeting to protest proposed commercial zoning on Rimer Pond Road.

Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson who formerly represented Blythewood on County Council visits with Blythewood residents who attended Tuesday night’s Council meeting to protest proposed commercial zoning on Rimer Pond Road.

According to Council rules, if Palmer wishes to bring his rezoning request back to Council he must start the process over by first bringing it before the Richland County Planning Commission. A major obstacle for Palmer in trying to get the 5.23 acres rezoned to Rural Commercial (RC) is the wording of the RC ordinance, which states that RC zoning is suited for the more isolated agricultural and rural residential districts and residents located beyond the limits of service of the municipalities.

The Planning Commission cited that wording as the reason they voted against recommending RC zoning for the 5.23 acres. Commissioner Beverly Frierson commented that the area in question was not isolated and not underserved.

Palmer, who is Chairman of the Richland County Planning Commission, placed on the Commission’s June 1 agenda for discussion the possibility of rewording the ordinance. That rewording is expected to be considered and voted on at the July 6 Planning Commission meeting to be held at 1 p.m. in Council Chambers, 2020 Hampton St. in Columbia. The agenda and meeting packet for that meeting will be available at richlandonline.com.