Council rejects commercial rezoning request on Wilson Blvd.

BLYTHEWOOD – The applicant for a rezoning request to change a Rural (R) zoned parcel on Wilson Boulevard to commercial zoning was denied Monday night for a second time in as many months by town council.

Terika Taylor, who owns the parcel located at 10715 Wilson Boulevard, was not present for the proceedings that took on a heated tone as council continued to be divided on the issue.

“This parcel sits between two parcels that were rezoned commercial in the past,” Mayor Bryan Franklin explained. “The property owner is asking to be accommodated in like regard to the two near parcels. However, there is somewhat of an outcry about commercializing that area near Rimer Pond Road. That’s what we have before us tonight,”

Both the Town’s planning staff and the planning commission, recommended against the rezoning based on the town’s future land use map and in an effort to discourage urban sprawl down the corridors that enter the Town of Blythewood, according to Town Administrator Brian Cook.

“There’s too much potential that the same commercial zoning would piggyback down the road,” Cook said when the request initially came before the planning commission last month.

Taylor’s initial request for Multi-Office Commercial (MO) zoning was recommended by the planning commission in June, then denied by the Town Council and sent back to the planning commission with the suggestion from a council member that a less intensive commercial zoning might be considered. At its July meeting, however the planning commission subsequently denied a new request for the less intensive Neighborhood Commercial (NO) zoning. The NO zoning request ended up before council for the second tine Monday night.

Councilman Donald Brock, who sided with the opinions of Cook and the planning commission, said he reached out to the neighbors who live behind the property and had received both letters and phone calls from neighbors in the vicinity of the property urging him to vote against the rezoning.

“I know that when a parcel on the corner of Rimer Pond across from the Middle School requested commercial zoning from Richland County, the residents came out in droves to oppose it,” Brock said. “So I think before we go and rezone another piece of property commercial that we really need to think about what it is our constituents want.”

Councilman Larry Griffin, who favored the rezoning, said he had trouble understanding how the planning commission changed its vote to oppose the rezoning when it initially voted to approve a less restrictive zoning.

Planning commission chairman Rich McKenrick explained that by the commission’s second vote, the public had spoken out against the rezoning which possibly influenced the commission’s decision.

“If I saw the Town of Blythewood council rezone a parcel to commercial [along Wilson Boulevard], I’d think I had some pretty good ammo to go to Richland County and get other parcels rezoned commercial that are outside the town but close to it,” Brock said, referring to Rimer Pond Road.

“It establishes a precedent that if the town council feels comfortable establishing commercial zones outside the town center then maybe individuals can go before Richland County. It’s the same thing,” Brock said.

“If council members feel that Richland County can come in and rezone, this should be ammo for those folks in that area to be annexed in,” Sloan Griffin said. “Those folks should be willing to come into town right now.”

“Right, assuming we say no to the rezoning, then they would be supportive because we would be putting our foot down, saying there would be no commercialization of that area.”

Brock made a motion to deny the rezoning request. Baughman seconded it.

The vote was 3-2 against the rezoning with Brock, Baughman and Franklin voting against and the two Councilmen Griffin voting against.

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