Estate Zoning Clears Planning Commission

The developer of a 202-acre parcel situated between Langford Road and Heins roads received approval from the Richland County Planning Commission to change the zoning of the property from Rural (RU) zoning to Residential Estate (RS-E) zoning, which would permit as many as 529 homes to be built on the site.

The developer of a 202-acre parcel situated between Langford Road and Heins roads received approval from the Richland County Planning Commission to change the zoning of the property from Rural (RU) zoning to Residential Estate (RS-E) zoning, which would permit as many as 529 homes to be built on the site.

COLUMBIA – A proposed 202-acre residential development in Blythewood that could contain as many as 529 homes in an area bordered on two sides by Langford and Heins roads received a 5-3 recommendation for rezoning from Rural (RU) to Residential Estates (RS-E) from the Richland County Planning Commission Monday afternoon. Under the proposed zoning, which calls for single family homes, lot sizes would be reduced from three-quarters of an acre per lot to less than half an acre.

While the County’s Deputy Planning Director/Zoning Administrator Geonard Price reported that the Planning Department staff recommended the rezoning because they felt it complied with the County’s Comprehensive Plan, which calls for Neighborhood Low Density, a number of neighbors spoke out against the rezoning, asking the Commission to leave it zoned Rural.

Carol Ward, who lives on 12 acres across from the proposed rezoning, told the Commission that 400-500 homes across the street would affect the quality of life in that rural area and recalled what had happened in Hunters’ Run, a similar but smaller nearby development that is zoned Rural.

“They came in and clear-cut the land and then put up street lights that cause light pollution,” Ward said. “There’s sign pollution all up and down Langford Road directing people to Hunter’s Run. Because of that development, we’ve already had to alter our route to work and take all the back roads to be able to get through the traffic to Blythewood.”

Ward, along with several other neighbors who addressed the Commission, took exception with the lots in the proposed zoning classification being described as ‘estate’ lots.

“That’s misleading,” she said. “Those lots will be less than half an acre. I’m not opposed to thoughtful development, but building 400-500 homes in this rural area is not thoughtful development.”

Commissioner Wallace Brown Sr. asked Price if the reason the developer wants to change the zoning from RU to RS-E is to be able to build more homes.

“As it stands, three-quarter-acre lots are what’s permitted on that property,” Brown said. “Given the rural nature of all this property that’s out here, I question if that (RS-E) zoning is in the best interest of the neighbors and the county, just to be able to build more homes.”

Patrick Palmer, Chairman of the Commission, answered Brown, saying, “The staff says ‘yes’.”

When Brown asked if there were other RS-E developments in the area, Price said the nearest one is Cooper’s Pond, which is located on Rimer Pond Road near Highway 21.

When Commissioner David Tuttle started to make a motion to recommend the rezoning, Commissioner Heather Cairns said she was against rezoning the property to RS-E with lots less than half an acre.

“The Comp Plan calls for (this area to be) Neighborhood Low Density, which is three-quarter-acre lots,” Cairns said.

She was also critical of calling the RS-E lots ‘estate’ lots, agreeing with Ward that ‘estate’ is a misnomer.

“This is a part of the county that is predominately rural with very large lots,” Cairns said. “So I don’t believe the Comp Plan supports this (property) becoming less than half-acre lots. I don’t support it.”

The request will next be heard by County Council during a public hearing on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers in the County Building at the corner of Hampton and Harden streets. Those wishing to address Council concerning the issue must arrive early to sign up to speak.

To receive a packet containing detailed information about the rezoning request, contact Suzie Haynes at 803-576-2176 or [email protected] Packets for both last Monday’s Planning Commission meeting and the upcoming Council meeting can also be found at richlandonline.com.

 

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