PC votes against commercial zoning on Wilson Boulevard

The property requesting rezoning backs up to Beskin Court neighborhood. | Ashley Ghere

BLYTHEWOOD – After the Blythewood Town Council voted 5-0 on June 22 to deny the rezoning of a property at 10715 Wilson Boulevard from Rural (R) zoning to Multi-Neighborhood (MO) commercial zoning, property owner Terika Taylor started the rezoning process anew. She appeared before the Blythewood Planning Commission on Monday night asking for a more restrictive Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zoning.

After considerable discussion, the Commission voted 4-3 against recommending the rezoning.

The matter now goes back to town council for reconsideration.

The town’s planning staff recommended against the rezoning request 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 is too much potential that the same commercial zoning would piggyback down the road,” Cook said when the request initially came before the planning commission in June.

Planning commission vice chairman Malcolm Gordge disagreed.

“It [commercial zoning] seems like a perfectly desirable thing to do,” Gordge said.

Commission chair Rich McKenrick argued that commercial zoning for that property is not in compliance with the town’s master plan or the long range comprehensive plan.

“I realize that we are in the middle of a rewrite of those plans,” McKenrick said, “but even in the rewrite, I’m not convinced that we would see Wilson Boulevard as commercial or would want all those lots along Wilson turning commercial.”

Two adjacent properties – one zoned NC and the other MO – are the only commercially zoned properties in the immediate area. There have been other requests for commercial zoning in recent years along Wilson Boulevard, but those requests have been denied.

McKenrick said there is good reason not to rezone Taylor’s lot.

“As sure as I’m sitting here,” McKenrick said, “if this property is rezoned NC, the next applicant on the lot beside it is going to come to planning commission at some point in time and say, ‘there are three lots zoned NC and all three lots are contiguous to each other. Why wouldn’t you rezone my lot?’ That’s why, tonight, I’m going to vote with the staff’s recommendation.”

Because the meeting was held via Zoom and the public was not able to attend due to restrictions imposed to protect against the coronavirus pandemic, council invited the public who would like to comment on agenda items to email comments to town hall.

Trey Hair, who lives on Rimer Pond Road and emailed his objections to council regarding the rezoning request, told The Voice after the meeting that he was disappointed that his letter was summarized and not read verbatim on Zoom.

“It was only two paragraphs, very short,” Hair said. “It’s not fair for the public to be shut out and then not be allowed to have their comments heard the way they were written. I was quoted as saying, ‘There are a lot of commercial uses in the area…’ That’s not what I wrote. I wrote: ‘There are many commercial properties that remain vacant along the Blythewood Road corridor where business is centered,’ pointing out that was where commercial should be locating.”

Gordge made the motion to grant Taylor’s rezoning request which failed 3-4. Commissioners Derrek Pugh, Erica Page and Gordge voted to recommend the rezoning request. McKendrick, and commissioners Marcus Taylor, Ernestine Middleton and Ed Kesser voted to deny the rezoning request.

The rezoning is expected to be heard by town council on Monday, July 27.