E-Capital pulls rezoning request

COLUMBIA – More than a hundred residents of Crickentree breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday night at a Richland County Council public hearing after the Texas investment firm, E-Capital, withdrew its application for the rezoning of the former Golf Course of South Carolina.

The withdrawal was announced by County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson at the beginning the hearing on the rezoning. Dickerson represents much of the Blythewood area, including Crickentree.

E-Capital’s proposal to rezone the golf course from Traditional Recreational Open Spaces (TROS) to medium density residential (RS-MD) would allow  up to 600 homes to be developed on the 183-acre property. TROS is a zoning category designed to protect golf courses, ensuring that they remain open green space.

Residents fear smaller lots and hundreds of additional homes will lower their large-lot home values and further congest already unmanageable traffic in the area.

Robert Fuller, attorney for E-Capital, spoke with The Voice after the meeting. He was asked if E-Capital plans to come back to council and request a different zoning classification for the property.

“I don’t know,” Fuller said. “I can’t say what they will do. Nothing has been decided.”

In attendance at the meeting and signed in to speak in support of the residents, Mayor J. Michael Ross has been forthcoming in public meetings about his desire for the county to purchase the golf course property and turn it into recreational opportunities for the northern Richland County area.

A story on the front page of The State Monday morning laid bare Dickerson’s irritation with Ross over that proposal.

“If he wants a park, he can put it in there,” Dickerson was quoted in The State. According to the newspaper, Dickerson was miffed that Ross had “approached the Richland County Recreation Commission before the rezoning request was filed.”

The story quoted Dickerson as saying that “caused some ill will when the mayor skirted County Council and pitched a plan for land not in the Blythewood city limits.”

Later in the day on Monday, Ross emailed County Council members.

“I wanted to reach out before tomorrow night’s meeting and express to you my concerns about the rezoning of the Crickentree property. Even though it was pointed out in The State newspaper today that the property being discussed is not in our town, it sure is close!!! If you don’t think another development of 200, 400 or 600 homes right down Langford Road doesn’t affect our town and its citizens, well I know you do! I encourage all of you to do what you and I were elected to do and hear the people’s wishes and vote in favor of preserving this wonderful green space in northern Richland County.  If this is rezoned and the TROS classification is lost, it will only be the first in this area to go.  The Windermere Golf club property will be right behind it.   I hope you, like me, would like to see a pause or hold on all the home development in northern Richland County especially when it devours ‘green space!’”

The email ended with Ross’ trademark lightheartedness.

“Thanks for all you do and, Mrs. Dickerson, I still know we are the best of friends no matter what!”