RC Council zoning public hearing for Rimer Pond Road set for Feb. 23

COLUMBIA – Richland County Council will hold a zoning public hearing on Tuesday night, Feb. 23, to hear what residents who live and travel along Rimer Pond Road have to say about a rezoning request that will bring more traffic to the already congested road.

Those residents’ comments, however, will not be delivered with their own passion, but will be read into the record by a county employee.  Due to ongoing COVID restrictions, county officials still do not allow the public to attend ‘public’ meetings.

At issue for residents who live and travel along the road is that Richland County Council continues to approve more housing developments along the road without addressing the increased traffic congestion these neighborhoods bring.

The latest rezoning-for-housing request on the lower end of Rimer Pond Road was made in December by Blythewood developer Kevin Steelman. Steelman has requested to rezone 15.14 acres for approximately 40-55 new homes.

Steelman’s proposed neighborhood butts up against Blythewood Farms, another new neighborhood of 599 proposed homes on 248.54 acres being developed by Great Southern Homes.

Rimer Pond Road residents have expressed concern that the Great South Homes neighborhood would also exit onto Rimer Pond Road, but Steelman said in a recent interview with The Voice that only 41 of the Great Southern Homes’ 599 lots will exit onto Rimer Pond Road.

“Because of a wetlands that snakes across the lower section of the larger Great Southern Homes property,” Steelman said, “the other 558 Great Southern Homes lots will necessarily have to exit to the northern end of the neighborhood onto Langford Road near Blythewood Town Hall.”

Steelman said there will not be a way for vehicles to cross the wetlands in either direction.

“The maximum number of lots exiting onto Rimer Pond Road from Great Southern Homes and my development will be their 41 and our 40-55,” Steelman said. “And we’re planning to put turn lanes in to help ease the traffic onto the road.”

Map showing Cooper’s Pond, Great Southern Homes and Steelman’s proposed neighborhood on Rimer Pond Road. | Ashley Ghere

The entrance/exit to Coopers Pond neighborhood borders the other side of Steelman’s proposed neighborhood. These three neighborhoods are within a quarter mile of Highway 21 where, during drive times, traffic can back up a mile or more down Rimer Pond Road. A little further down the road, vehicles from Eagles Glen empty onto Rimer Pond Road. Lake Carolina homes and a myriad of neighborhoods along Hardscrabble cut through Rimer Pond Road to get to Highway 21 during high traffic hours. And a number of other new neighborhoods under construction will also empty onto the road.

Steelman said if the rezoning is approved, he expects to break ground sometime in July and the first homes should start going up in January.

With restrictions on the public’s access to rezoning meetings during the pandemic, residents say they have little meaningful input to the county’s rezoning decisions that affect traffic on the leaving few if any barriers to the council’s passage of developers’ requests for rezoning.

To view the county council zoom meeting which is scheduled for 7 p.m., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, go to: http://richlandcountysc.gov/Government/County-Council.

To have your comment read during the public hearing, email Geonard Price, Richland County Planning Department Manager, at: [email protected] or the road’s two county council representatives:

Emails should be received by end of day Friday; however, Price told The Voice that every effort would be made to read emails received as late as Tuesday.