Council votes to rescind C1

RIDGEWAY – As Russ Brown awaits the rezoning of .82 acres at the fork of highway 21 and 34 in downtown Ridgeway, Town Council last week, following their attorney’s instructions, rescinded their Aug. 11 vote to OK the rezoning and sent the request back to the Planning Commission for reconsideration.
Brown’s request for rezoning from R1 to C2 cleared the Planning Commission 5-2 on July 12, but was amended by Council, with Brown’s approval, at their Aug. 11 meeting to a C1 request. That amended request passed first reading 3-2. Second reading, which came on the heels of a formal protest by nearby property owners, failed 1-3.
Attorney Danny Crowe advised Council that they had erred in considering an amended request and advised them to rescind those votes. Council should have only considered the C2 request recommended by the Planning Commission.
But Rick Johnson, Ridgeway’s new Zoning Administrator, told Council during their Nov. 10 meeting that he could see no way Brown’s property could meet the criteria for C2 zoning.
“It is .82 acres, which is not large enough to support the 2 acre rule,” Johnson said. “There are exceptions to that that could be met, and in this case the exception that could be considered is extension of existing district boundaries. The property is not contiguous to any other C2 property, and for that reason as Zoning Administrator I cannot recommend that property be rezoned to C2.”
After Council voted to rescind their previous vote on the matter and send it back to the Planning Commission, Mayor Charlene Herring said Brown could appeal the Zoning Administrator’s decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Brown could also withdraw his original C2 request and reapply for a C1 zoning classification, in which case, Herring said, Brown would not have to wait the standard six months.

Water Tank

During public comment, Jon Ward presented Council with a letter from the Merchants Association asking Council to rethink plans for replacing the existing water tank.

“The Merchants Association is very concerned about the water tower coming down. We do not want to see it come down,” Ward said.

Ward said the water tank was an icon that was a draw to visitors.

“It’s old, yes; but it needs to stand where it is,” she said. “I think the Merchants Association has recommended that an alternative location be considered for that. Once you lose something historical, of an historical nature, it cannot be replaced.”

Councilman Doug Porter later said alternative sites would be considered, but noted that a new tank was necessary.

“We’re just going to have to deal with this,” Porter said.

Herring said the Town had received a Rural Infrastructure Authority grant for $500,000 to replace the tank. The Town would have to front $97,550 for engineering services, geotechnical services, DHEC fees and contingencies. An alternative site could add to those costs, she said.

“We know the community has concerns about removing the tower, even though you can’t fill it all the way up, there’s holes and you can’t wax it anymore,” Herring said. “If you tried to repair it, you’d create more holes.”

Herring asked the Water Committee to investigate the possibilities of placing the new tank at a different site and what the difference in costs might be.

Councilwoman Angela Harrison recommended that the Town research a utility bond to fund an alternative site, if such a move proved too costly. She also asked for a public hearing to determine how Ridgeway’s residents felt about the matter.