Dickerson led 7-3 vote to rezone golf course for homes

More Than 120 Crickentree Residents Attended to Oppose Rezoning

COLUMBIA – Richland County Council dimmed the hopes of more than 120 Crickentree residents who were in attendance at a public hearing Tuesday night, that council would save their quiet, treed, large-acre neighborhood from hundreds of homes being built on a former golf course along the border of their neighborhood.

At the urging of their county council representative Joyce Dickerson, Council voted against them, 7-3, Tuesday evening to approve the first reading of a request by Texas investment firm E-Capital to rezone the 183-acre former golf course property from TROS (Traditional Recreational Open Space) to RS-LD (Low Density Residential).

While the County planning staff recommended the zoning, the county’s planning commission voted 5-2 on June 3 to recommended that council reject the rezoning request on the basis that “a substantial portion of the property in question is zoned TROS and in light of the stated purposes within section 26-85, including preservation of conservation and open space, and to lessen the potential diminution of property values and to provide for a community-wide network of open spaces.’

Councilman Bill Malinowski said he had researched TROS zoning and that he found it had been created by the Richland County Conservation Commission for government owned land only and that it would not be appropriate zoning for a golf course.

E-Capital’s attorney Robert Fuller spoke at the beginning of the public hearing, but he did not mention the number of houses proposed on the property or the width of the buffer promised as he had done in past meetings.

“E-Capital’s silence on the number of homes and width of buffer promised leaves the residents in the dark, now, as to what the company plans to build,” Resident Russ St. Marie said following the meeting.

In previous meetings the numbers have ranged from 249 homes down to, more recently, 207, but according to the county’s planning information on the rezoning, as many as 672 (less 20 percent for infrastructure) could be built on the 183-acre parcel under RS-LD zoning.

According to the County’s Planning/Zoning Director Geonard Price, the developer would be allowed to build the maximum number of homes allowed and would not be held to the promised amount.

Before calling for the vote, Dickerson took the opportunity to vent her feelings about the Crickentree residents, Blythewood town government, LongCreek Plantation neighborhood and others.

Without further explanation, Dickerson said she had watched as Round Top neighborhood “has been squeezed by Crickentree and LongCreek Plantation.”

And she didn’t stop there.

“I have been challenged with numerous threats and correspondence containing fabricated information, for instance, that Blythewood requested to put a park…that community is not in Blythewood. So for someone on Blythewood planning commission to tell you they can put a park there, that’s fabricated information,” Dickerson read from a prepared speech.

Crickentree is located in 29016 which is in the Blythewood community, but not the town limits.

When asked if she would provide the threatening emails to The Voice, Dickerson said she would have to check with the county’s attorney before she could share them.

Dickerson also reported that she had received many emails urging her to vote for the rezoning. However, no one except the E-Capital representatives spoke in favor of the rezoning during the public hearing.

Noting that residents had said over the past year that if the TROS in their neighborhood were rezoned, it could cause a domino effect for other nearby golf communities, Dickerson pushed back.

“I am not looking at Windermere, Woodchuck [sic], Spring Valley, Wildwood, Longtown [sic]. All of you seem to be in a gated community with deed restrictions on some of your properties.

Due to a large turnout, many of those residents who came to the meeting were held in the lobby until near the end of the meeting. They were told by a security officer that seating was over capacity. Some left while others, including The Voice reporter, were not allowed in until the proceedings were almost over.

Council will have two more votes on the issue. Tuesday night was the only opportunity residents will have to publicly address the issue before council.