Crickentree residents organize

‘Concerned Citizens’ hire an attorney

BLYTHEWOOD – About 80 residents of Crickentree and several other area golf course communities attended a meeting at Doko Manor last week to come up with a plan for maintaining the Traditional Recreational Open Space (TROS) zoning for the 183 acres that was the former home of the Golf Club of South Carolina, also known as the Crickentree golf course.

About 200 attended a previous meeting on Feb. 14 that was called by representatives of Texas investment firm ECapital to unveil a revised proposal for 249 homes on the golf course property, down from a proposal last fall of 480 homes. ECapital purchased the mortgage on the now foreclosed golf course property that shares borders with the Crickentree subdivision which has access off Kelly Mill Road. The golf course property is accessed off Langford Road.

Bob McClure, a 29-year resident of Crickentree kicked off the meeting by referring to the ECapital group as land speculators, gamblers with no ties to our area.

“Gamblers don’t always win,” McClure declared, and referenced the zoning issue as a “big problem.”   McClure emphasized the critical need to expand their group to include citizens of all area golf course communities who are ready to fight the rezoning from TROS to residential.

Blythewood Mayor Michael Ross said that while the Crickentree property is under the jurisdiction of Richland County and not Blythewood, a residential development of that size would have a major impact on the residents of Blythewood due to infrastructure issues.  He cited the already proposed 601 homes in the Blythewood Farms subdivision adjacent to Town Hall as an example of the continuous growth.

Blythewood Town Councilman Bryan Franklin suggested the County purchase the property and use it as a recreational hub for the regional community.  He laid out a plan to use approximately half of the property for sports fields to support football, soccer, lacrosse and other sports that are not currently being provided for by Richland County in the Blythewood area.

“There’s tremendous potential for Blythewood to become a centrally located hub for state baseball/softball tournaments and travel leagues,” Franklin said. “There’s a potential for $10,000 – $14,000 in revenue for a single tournament weekend,” he said.  “It makes sense to use what is already there. Seniors like to walk. The current pathways could be used for walking, jogging and bicycle paths, even horseback riding areas.  The country club could be used as a senior center for activities.”

Franklin suggested the remaining area of the property be maintained as a County 9-hole golf course where everyone could play.

“If approved, the low density zoning request for 247 homes that E Capital representatives have said they are seeking, would actually allow the owner/developer of the property to place as many as 650 homes on the property based on current low density regulations and the acreage involved,” Crickentree resident Michael Koska said.

“The promises and drawings presented by E Capital at our Feb. 7 meeting would not be legally enforceable, including the 150 ft. proposed buffer, retention of ponds or trees, placement and quantity of homes, etc.”

Attorney Brian Boger, who was hired by some members of the ‘Concerned Residents of Crickentree’ neighborhood group to help maintain the TROS zoning, said he had met with ECapital’s attorney, Robert Fuller, and that Fuller had said ECapital intended to apply for a zoning change by Thursday, Feb. 28.

Crickentree resident Russ Ste.Marie provided a power point presentation to outline what he felt could befall the Crickentree community if they did not fight the rezoning. He cautioned that the new rewrite of the Richland County Comprehensive Plan would combine TROS properties and numerous similar type properties into one designation.

Boger cited a meeting of nine HOA Presidents from Richland County golf course communities who are addressing similar problems.  He suggested they join in the Crickentree battle.

“This property cannot be rezoned without the Richland County Council members supporting it,” Boger said. “You all need to mount a campaign and email our concerns to everyone involved.  And we need to be at the Planning Committee public meeting and the County Council meeting in mass.  We need to develop a list of specific reasons to stay TROS.  We will only have 30 minutes to address each of these two groups. And the more people there to show their support, the better,” he said.

Crickentree resident Tracie Cooper reiterated the need for residents to communicate with the County Council members.  “We are in this together,” she emphasized.  “Team Crickentree, and we have got to stick together.”

For more information about the proposed rezoning, call 803-719-1242 or go to SaveGolfCourses.com