Letter: Pack It Up or Pack It In

Anyone who cares about the future of this area and the explosive growth of Northeast Columbia should be paying attention.  Richland County officials are diving headlong into development of this area without regard to infrastructure to support it, the ability of the school district to accommodate it, and the effect it will have on the quality of life for residents.  Please consider this as Part 2 of Mrs. Barbara Ball’s article, “All unincorporated parcels in Richland being rezoned,” printed in the March 31 edition of The Voice or, as Paul Harvey would have said, the rest of the story.

I have long taken issue with the barrage of re-zoning requests in this area.  The majority come from real estate investment firms or developers looking to add “affordable housing” to the area.  Surveys done in the area and the general tone from citizens at Richland County meetings is that the rampant development is unwanted.  The usual response from Richland County Council and the Planning Commision is that rezoning is part of the “comprehensive development plan” for the County.  I have even heard it said that current residents are just being selfish because we don’t want others to move into the area to enjoy the atmosphere.  We have been treated as simple country folk that are opposed to progress and don’t understand future planning and development.  A deeper look into the process will reveal what is really going on and that the efforts of residents to keep Blythewood rural are likely to fail.

As Mrs. Ball explained in her article, Richland County Department of Planning and Development are responsible for these decisions.  The 2021 Land Development Code Rewrite is a 517-page document that most people don’t have time to sort through and comprehend.  Mrs. Ball’s article did an excellent job of summarizing it for those who don’t.  This rewrite is just a minor example of how the process is being rushed through without giving the public an opportunity to oppose. 

It has been very suspicious to me that the meetings by the Planning Commission to take public comment are always scheduled on weekdays mid-afternoon when most of us are at work and unable to attend.

A huge public outcry may not even fix this problem.  The 2021 Land Development Code Rewrite is clearly an effort to line pockets while eliminating the countryside from Richland County.  Soon, Blythewood and other communities will suffer the same fate as Irmo/Harbison.  The County will consist of Columbia and the suburbs.  Traffic, crime, and overcrowded failing schools will spread.  The option I may soon be faced with is to move somewhere that is more accepting of country living, privacy, and my daughter’s love of horses. 

Caleb Thomas


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