Rimer Pond zoning issue heating up

The battle to take Rimer Pond Road continues as developer Hugh Palmer and his son Patrick, a former chairman and 14-year member of the Richland County Planning Commission, try for the fourth time in as many years to establish the first commercial zoning on the road.

Residents from Rimer Pond Road, LongCreek Plantation, Eagles Glen and surrounding areas are expected to show up at a Richland County Planning Commission public hearing Monday a little before 1 p.m. to sign up to speak against the proposed rezoning of a 5.23-acre parcel of land at the intersection of Rimer Pond Road and Longtown Road/Trading Post Road. That meeting, which is usually held in Council chambers at the County building, has been relocated to the second floor of the main Richland County public library at 1431 Assembly Street in Columbia.

The owner of the property, Hugh Palmer, is requesting a change in zoning from Medium Density Residential (RS-MD) to Neighborhood Commercial (NC). The parcel is located across the street from Blythewood Middle School.

The County’s Planning Department staff is recommending that the Planning Commission recommend the rezoning to Richland County Council.

During the other three attempts by the Palmer family to bring commercial zoning to Rimer Pond Road, Patrick Palmer was either a member or Chair of the Planning Commission that determined whether the recommendation to Council would be for or against the rezoning. While Palmer recused himself from voting on the rezoning, his proximity with staff and the other Commissioners didn’t sit well with the residents who opposed the rezoning. After Hugh Palmer’s last loss to the residents in February of this year, Patrick Palmer resigned from the Commission.

The fourth battle between Palmer and the residents is playing out in a new dimension – Facebook – where Patrick Palmer has put himself into the mix, trying to convince residents that the information on anti-commercial Facebook sites and in The Voice is not correct.

“Nicole, this is Patrick Palmer and I would love to talk with you about the proposed rezoning at the corner of Rimer Pond and Longtown Rd. My cell is xxx-xxxx. Please call me anytime with any questions you have. The Facebook sites you are listening to are not correct. Please call me,” Palmer wrote on the Keep it Rural site which is managed by Rimer Pond Road resident Trey Hair. The site, which is the hub of the base who oppose commercial zoning on the Road, gets an average of about 2,500 clicks per update since the public hearing notice was staked out by property, Hair said.

For his part, Patrick Palmer and his father say they just want to bring commercial uses in small 6,000 square foot offices to the neighborhood as a convenience to the residents.

The neighbors disagree. Their mantra has become, “We don’t want it, and we don’t need it.”

“The only beneficiary of this zoning change will be the applicant who stands to make a large sum of money from the property sales,” Trey Hair said when addressing Council on the issue in February.

The 5.23 acre parcel which is home to a cell tower, makes it undesirable for residential use, Palmer told the County Council. The parcel is what’s left from a larger 36+ acre parcel after the Palmers sold 31.23 acres to Kevin Steele of Land Tech, the developer who is now building Coatsbridge neighborhood on the 31.23 acres.

In the spring of 2013, a flyer, which was verified by Patrick Palmer at the time, advertised the 5.23 acre parcel for $350,000 per acre.

Residents say they don’t want commercial zoning of any kind because they fear the domino effect – one commercial zoning making it easier for the next commercial zoning request to be granted.

Hugh Palmer told Council in February, when he was asking for Rural Commercial Zoning, that commercial zoning will not bring to fruition the residents’ worse fears. He also said commercial zoning is what the County, as a whole, has instructed the development community to do.

“Maybe it’s against what the residents out here want. But as a person who owns property in the county, all I have to go on is what the county says. So that’s what I’m going to do.”


  1. Joe Trapp says

    I was driving down rimer pond Road the other day it was hot and all I wanted was one of them big 69 cents Big old belly washers from Circle K. I said to myself if there was a Circle K on this corner I would not have to drive the whole way to Clempson and hard gravel rd. I’m just saying I don’t own that land so I shouldn’t have any say one it.

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