RC Council to vote on golf course zoning

BLYTHEWOOD – Tuesday night’s Richland County Council meeting could be a turning point for the residents of Crickentree concerning a rezoning request they oppose for the 183-acre golf course property that adjoins their neighborhood.

The meeting will include a public hearing on the issue and the first of three votes to deny or approve a request from the property’s owner, E-Capital Management, to rezone the property from Traditional Recreational Open Space (TROS) zoning to Low Density Residential (RS-LD) zoning.

While the council has three votes, the first vote – yay or nay – more often than not portends the final outcome. If council members vote against the rezoning on the first vote, that’s the final vote. If council votes to approve the rezoning, it will have two more votes. If the second is a vote for approval, the third vote will determine the outcome.

If, like the last time it came before council, E-Capital pulls the request before it is considered, the request could return as another zoning classification, perhaps Rural (RU), and re-enter the rezoning cycle.

The residents and the rezoning applicant will only be allowed to express their concerns prior to the first vote.

Tuesday will be the second time around the block for a rezoning request. It was initially recommended earlier this year by the county staff for Medium Density Residential (RS-MD) zoning, but subsequently recommended for denial by the Planning Commission. On April 23, E-Capital’s attorney Robert Fuller pulled the item from council’s agenda before it came up. After a new zoning request for RS-LD was recommended by the county planning staff in the Spring, the Planning Commission balked again, recommending on June 3 in a 5-2 vote that Council deny the rezoning request.

The ball is now back in council’s court. The issues are still myriad.

Some residents say TROS is not subject to rezoning.

Resident Russ St. Marie said chapter 26 of the county’s zoning ordinance directs that TROS zoned properties and their current uses are to be preserved and protected.

Planning Commissioner David Tuttle, one of the two Commissioners who voted for the rezoning, disagreed. He explained that TROS is just like any other zoning classification that comes before council.

“Prior to the creation of TROS zoning,” Tuttle said, “golf course properties within neighborhoods were subject to being reverted to their previous zoning without coming before council. The purpose of TROS was to insure that the property would go before council before it could be rezoned.” He said that process served as a protection for adjoining property owners, that it gave the neighbors a say in the rezoning process.

Fuller reasoned that the RS-LD zoning, allowing 3.63 homes to the acre, is the same as the current Crickentree property zoning, Low Density Residential.

County zoning administrator Geonard Price pointed out, however, that Crickentree lots are actually larger with 1.04 homes to the acre, possibly making Low Density zoning of the golf course property incompatible with surrounding properties.

“In RS-LD zoning, lots would be restricted to no less than 1,200 square feet,” Fuller told the panel. “We would restrict the number of homes to 207 with a 150-foot buffer between the golf course property and the Crickentree neighborhood. This is the only way the owner can make anything of it.”

The issue will go before County Council at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 25 for first reading and a public hearing.