Wording May Impact Rimer Pond Road Zoning

COLUMBIA – Although the Rimer Pond Road commercial zoning request was withdrawn from the June 23 Richland County Council public hearing, a related issue that could prompt a new, similar rezoning request for the same property before the end of the year is still pending at the County and will go before the County Planning Commission on Monday for a possible recommendation to Council.

After mounting protests from residents against the proposed commercial rezoning on Rimer Pond Road, resounding rejection of the zoning request by the County Planning Commission and a letter from Blythewood Mayor J. Michael Ross to County Council in support of the residents’ opposition to the rezoning, the applicant, Patrick Palmer, withdrew the request just hours before the public hearing in which Council was to hear from citizens and take its first vote on the request. Some members of Council told residents in private that Palmer’s request for Rural Commercial (RU) did not have the votes on Council for approval.

The main reason given by the Planning Commission for recommending against Palmer’s request at its April 6 meeting was the wording of the RU zoning ordinance. That wording serves as a guideline for how the County staff makes recommendations on zoning requests to the Planning Commission, which in turn makes recommendations on zoning requests to the County Council, the chamber where zoning requests ultimately become law or die.

Commissioner Beverly Frierson and other commissioners said the wording of the RU ordinance, which called for RU zoning in isolated rural areas and where residents were underserved by municipalities, was outdated and not applicable to the Rimer Pond Road area.

Now the County’s planning staff, who initially backed Palmer’s request for commercial zoning on the road, has asked the Planning Commission to review the wording of the ordinance with the option of adopting new, more applicable wording. New wording could result in the RU zoning district, which Palmer had requested, becoming more applicable to the Rimer Pond Road area. Palmer is chairman of the Planning Commission.

The wording is on the agenda for discussion and possible action on Monday at the Richland County building in the Council chambers at the corner of Harden and Hampton streets. The meeting starts at 1 p.m. and anyone who would like to address the Commission must sign in prior to the meeting. A copy of the agenda and meeting packet can be found at richlandonline.com.