Owners Rethink Rezoning

BLYTHEWOOD – After voting unanimously and without discussion to recommend the final draft of a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan to Town Council for passage, members of the Planning Commission Tuesday night moved on to what Chairman Malcolm Gordge referred to as “the principle business of the evening – to affix zoning for a 4.56-acre parcel at 121 McLean Road.”

Until it was recently annexed into the town, the parcel was one of several surrounded by the Town of Blythewood but lying in unincorporated Richland County with a Rural (RU) zoning designation.

The owners of the 4.56 parcel, Wright and Gray Partnership, represented by NIA Avant realtor Tombo Milliken, appeared before the Planning Commission to ask the Town to rezone the property to Town Center (TC) District zoning, which is the same zoning as Doko Park across the street. That zoning designation is the fifth most intense of six commercial zoning levels in the town.

Several neighbors who share a property line with the annexed property spoke out against TC zoning for the parcel. One of those neighbors, Jessica Nuttall, said her family did not want commercial zoning next to their property, which is zoned Rural.

The Town’s Planning Consultant, Michael Criss, pointed out that the TC District does allow a wide variety of commercial uses, including retail, service, office, institutional, civic and multi-family housing. Criss said, however, that TC is the commercial district with the most demanding architectural controls of all the town’s commercial districts.

“So the question is,” Criss said, “if it’s going to go commercial, which designation is the most appropriate?”

Milliken said the Wright and Gray Partnership property was already “surrounded by commercial zoning, all the way around, no if’s, and’s or but’s.”

Nuttall said that was not the case. A review of Richland County GIS mapping by The Voice indicated that all the properties touching the 4.56-acre parcel are zoned Rural. Doko Park, which is zoned TC, is across the street from the property.

After some discussion, Milliken responded that he and the property’s owners were rethinking their zoning preference and “now we think the Multi-Neighborhood Commercial designation might be more appropriate for what the property is best suited for.”

“Personally,” Milliken said, “I think it would be a great location for a professional office.”

Criss told the Commissioners that Multi-Neighborhood commercial zoning is one level below TC commercial zoning.

Given the 1.3 acres of wetlands on the site and a half acre on the opposite side of the wetlands that would not be usable in a development unless the wetlands were mitigated, Milliken said he felt the most likely use of the land would be the 2.5 acres nearest the railroad side of the property, as far away from residents as possible.

At one point in the meeting, Milliken turned to the Nuttall family and said, “The property is for sale and we’d love to sell it to you if you’re interested.”

Jessica Nuttall responded that the family might be interested and asked for more details, which Milliken said he would give them following the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, instead of calling for a motion, Gordge suggested the principals of the 4.56 acres meet with the neighbors and “try to come to terms, either for the neighbors to purchase the property or for the applicant to bring a rezoning proposal back to the Commission at the next meeting.” The next regular meeting of the Planning Commission is Oct. 5.


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