PC OKs Red Gate for lower density PD

BLYTHEWOOD – The Blythewood Planning Commission decided last month to hold further discussions this month on an intensely debated process that would allow the town to rezone three separate parcels located on Blythewood Road between Syrup Mill and Muller Roads. The properties, originally zoned Planned Development District (PDD) under the jurisdiction of Richland County, were later annexed into the town and have sat dormant since 2007.

Those ‘further discussions’ on a forced rezoning by the Town were not necessary Monday evening as developer Harold Pickrel, III (HVP3 Development, LLC) of Elgin S.C., proposed developing the property under a Planned Development (PD) zoning designation, and with less than half the dwelling units previously proposed. After considerable discussion about projected growth and traffic congestion the area, the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend rezoning to PD.

The three areas include two zones referred to as Red Gate Farms I and II and are owned by Arthur State Bank. A third area at the corner of Syrup Mill Road and Blythewood Road is owned by Sharpe Properties.

The original plans under the PDD were to develop Red Gate I and II into housing communities. Plans for Red Gate I included 143 acres with a proposal to build 135 single family units and 23 acres of general commercial, while the Red Gate II plan proposed building 97 single family units and 300 multi-family units with 13 acres of general commercial.

These numbers projected a total of 232 single family units, 300 multi-family apartment units and 36 acres of commercial.

Pickrel proposed downsizing to 138 single family units and remove all 300 multi-family apartments.

The new plan establishes the 138 single family units on 74 acres with 76 units constructed on a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet and 62 units constructed on a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet.  It also downsizes the area designated for commercial from 36 acres to 28 acres. Pickrel said he would also reserve approximately 40 acres of open space for a lake and walking trails.

Both the Planning Commission and citizens voiced various concerns regarding the traffic issues that would worsen with another housing development.

“I have sat there for 20 minutes or longer trying to make a left turn [off Syrup Mill onto Blythewood Road] at rush hour,” Commissioner Sloan Jarvis Griffin III said.

Council Chairman Donald Brock expressed concern about Mueller Road Middle School being in the midst of the area affected. “The worst thing we could do is cause more problems,” he said.

Pickrel promised to hire an SCDOT traffic engineer to do the traffic study.  They will do the study of both Muller and Syrup Mill Roads and do them during school and at all different hours,” he said.

Larry Sharpe talked about his experiences with the SCDOT engineers.

“They keep saying there is not enough traffic to install a light,” Sharpe said. “The Penny Tax was supposed to fund 5 lanes through there,” speaking of Blythewood Road.

Doug Shay expressed his concern with more residential development in general.

“It’s all over the place,” Shay said. “And it is not being controlled.  Schools are bulging at the seams.  This is an opportunity to do it right.  We need to police it properly,” Shay stressed.

Pickrel promised to hire an SCDOT traffic engineer to do the traffic study.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that Council rezone of the 143-acre property with the downsized residential plan.

The next evening, during a Town of Winnsboro council meeting, council voted to issue a Water Capacity Availability and Willingness to Serve Letter to HVP3 Development for 138 residential lots and a maximum daily demand not to exceed 41,400 gallons per day.

Blythewood Town Council will take the first of two votes on the rezoning on June 30 at The Manor.