Rimer Pond Road Faces Commercial Rezoning…Again

Two notices recently popped up at the intersection of Rimer Pond Road and Longtown Road West announcing two hearings for a request for commercial zoning for 5.23 acres across from Blythewood Middle School. The first hearing is scheduled for the Richland County Planning Commission on Monday, Feb. 6. The second is scheduled for the Richland County Council on Tuesday, Feb. 28. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

Two notices recently popped up at the intersection of Rimer Pond Road and Longtown Road West announcing two hearings for a request for commercial zoning for 5.23 acres across from Blythewood Middle School. The first hearing is scheduled for the Richland County Planning Commission on Monday, Feb. 6. The second is scheduled for the Richland County Council on Tuesday, Feb. 28. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

BLYTHEWOOD (Feb. 2, 2017) – Residents on Rimer Pond Road and the surrounding area are once again faced with a request for commercial zoning on their road.

A sign staked at the corner of Rimer Pond Road and Longtown Road West gives notification by Richland County that a 5.23-acre parcel across the street from Blythewood Middle School is scheduled for a public hearing on a request by Hugh Palmer to rezone the parcel for commercial use. The rezoning request will come before the Richland County Planning Commission on Monday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. At that hearing, the Commission will make a recommendation to Richland County Council for approval or denial of the request – a request with a history.

Since April of 2015, Patrick Palmer – a developer/commercial realtor and longtime member of the Richland County Planning Commission – and his dad, Hugh Palmer, have launched several efforts to get commercial zoning pushed through the Planning Commission and County Council for the parcel, which is owned by Hugh Palmer. Patrick Palmer is the real estate broker for the property. The Palmers have said they want the commercial zoning designation so they can provide surrounding residents with commercial conveniences such as a pizza restaurant, dry cleaners and other businesses.

But the Palmers’ opponents, the residents who live in that area (Rimer Pond Road, LongCreek Plantation, Cooper’s Pond, Round Top Community and Eagles Glen), have fought the Palmer’s commercial zoning requests, saying they neither need nor want commercial zoning or commercial entities in their rural neighborhood, testifying repeatedly before the Commission and County Council that they are already well served by nearby businesses in Blythewood and on Killian Road. For the better part of three years, the residents have fought the Palmers tooth and nail, showing up in large numbers at Commission and Council meetings to speak out against the zoning request.

The score so far – Residents: 2, Palmers: 0.

Against strong neighborhood opposition, Hugh Palmer withdrew his request after the Planning Commission recommended denial (4-1) in June 2015. On the eve of Thanksgiving in November that same year, after another recommendation of denial (5-5) from the Commission, County Council failed to pass the Palmers’ request for commercial zoning when the vote ended in a tie, rendering a denial of the request.

But with close to $2 million riding on commercial rezoning of the property, the Palmers are not giving up. Again they are calling on Patrick Palmer’s fellow Planning Commissioners to grant him and his father a commercial zoning designation on the property, which is advertised for $350,000 per acre.

Residents say the timing for the hearing, on a weekday afternoon, causes a hardship on those who would like to oppose the rezoning.

According to the County’s zoning history of the parcel, it was part of a larger 36-acre parcel that was zoned Rural District (RU) in 1977. Palmer later had the entire parcel rezoned from RU to Residential Single-Family Medium Density (RS-MD) District and sold 31.23 acres for residential use, keeping the 5.23 acre point of the property that contained a cell tower. It is that point that the Palmers want rezoned to Rural Commercial (RC).

The County planning staff (not the Planning Commission) has, for the third time, recommended approval of the commercial zoning, citing the district’s zoning summary that says, “RC zoning is designed to bring commercial services to residents in the more isolated agricultural and rural districts who are located beyond the limits of commercial services.”

The summary also states that the RC district is designed to be located at or near intersections of major collector roads.

“All the (zoning) guidance points to this intersection as a parcel needing rezoning,” Hugh Palmer told the Planning Commission in 2015. “The documents that the County has passed have put this area as an area for change per the comp plan.”

Planning Commissioner Heather Cairns disagreed at a previous hearing.

“If all it takes is an intersection for there to be commercial development in what is an otherwise totally rural area, I’m sort of horrified,” Cairns said. “That means we won’t ever have integrity in our rural areas. It may be an intersection, but this area is already well served by commercial development a couple of miles away. This area is not underserved by commercial development.”

Commissioner Beverly Frierson agreed, saying that the properties along Rimer Pond Road are not isolated from commercial services.

“These residents,” Frierson said, “would be adversely impacted (by commercial zoning.) There are already stores and conveniences nearby.”

The rezoning request will be heard by the planning Commission on Monday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m., in County Council chambers, 2020 Hampton St. in Columbia (at the corner of Hampton and Harden streets) and is the second item on the docket. The agenda and information packet about the property can be found at richlandonline.com. Click on ‘government,’ then ‘commissions,’ then ‘planning commission,’ then agendas.

The public can attend the meeting and speak for or against the rezoning request.

 

Comments

  1. Amy Watts says

    Please do not allow this commercial development.
    We have so many stores and restaurants already within minutes of this area.
    As a resident of Longcreek I beg you to please think about our children in these school and not bring a central location of commercial areas together and temp the kids to leave campus and walk to for lunch or after school.
    Traffic is already so heavy in the area, and is so congested and unsafe now.
    This addition will only make our neighborhood closer to crime. These commercial areas that always bring with them crime are the reasons we moved from a neighborhood off Hardscrabble. Please do not bring crime so close to our babies’ schools and right to the doors of our homes.
    We specificity moved to Longcreek for the rural feel.
    Please don’t make us uproot our children and move again.

    Thank you
    Amy Watts

  2. Trudy Garfield says

    We do not need a dry cleaning store at that location as has been proposed by someone because a reputable dry cleaner picks up and delivers dry cleaning twice per week throughout Longcreek Plantation. Therefore, why would anyone take dry cleaning to a store in that location and risk an accident while trying to leave such a business in order to return to Longtown Rd. Someone else suggested a Pizza Parlor which would be nothing more than an attractive nuisance to the Children attending Blythewood Middle School. If a child were hurt crossing the street to get to the location, the responsibility would be squarely on the shoulders of the Commissioners who voted for the rezoning. There is no need for the development of this parcel for commercial purposes. Furthermore, the area is rural and the residents in Longcreek would like to keep it that way. Listen to the people you represent who don’t want rezoning!!

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