Council passes 2nd vote to rezone Gum Springs property for industry

FAIRFIELD COUNTY – Again Monday night, for the second county council meeting in a row, a group of residents in the Gum Springs Road area addressed council members, begging them not to rezone a large tract of land on Gum Springs Road near their homes for industrial use.

The 392-acre parcel, owned by Gum Springs, LLC, sits along SC Highway 34 between Gum Springs Road and Devils Racetrack Road and currently has a rural residential zoning classification. The property owner is requesting council to approve Ordinance 795, which would rezone the parcel to I-1 (Industrial.)

The residents who oppose the rezoning say they have lived in the area most of their lives or have recently moved to the area for the peace and quiet of the heretofore rural countryside. Some families have lived there for generations.

The most recent adaptations to the county’s comprehensive plan assigns industrial corridor status to the 11 miles that stretches along Highway 34 between Winnsboro and the Town of Ridgeway. The mostly straight leg of highway is intersected by Interstate 77, nine miles east of Winnsboro and 2.3 miles to Ridgeway from the 34 exit ramp. 

The Simpson/Gum Springs community members have asked for the rezoning to be put on hold until the community has more input into the modification of the plans for zoning categories.

Peter Gainey, a Gum Springs resident, said he has lived there for 15 years, moving there for the peace and quiet.

“Don’t do this,” Gainey implored council, referring to the rezoning. “I’ve been told that you want to do it because you have existing utilities already along Highway 34, and that other areas don’t have that,” Gainey said. “Don’t blame us for it.

“This is my generation and I deserve to live in peace and quiet. When this meeting is over, you will go to your homes where it’s peaceful, quiet, and where you don’t have hanging over your head whether or not the tract of land across from where you live will soon become industrial. You don’t have that worry. I do.”

Gainey implored council members to consider the citizens’ concerns before making their third and final vote at the next meeting.

“This type of spot zoning to industrial development status could result in unplanned and undesirable growth incompatible with the surrounding rural, agricultural and residential development uses that exist along the Highway 34E corridor,” said Pelham Lyles, a longtime property owner in the area.

“Property owners should have a reasonable expectation that existing land uses will not change and negatively impact their property and residences.

“The development of the county’s existing and proposed industrial parks should restrict the location of industry to those sites, rather than to allow the disruption of longstanding residential and agro-industry uses of our rural and natural resource areas,” Lyles said.

“Highway 34 between Ridgeway and Winnsboro should be promoted as the scenic route between I-77 and the two largest and designated historic towns,” Lyles said. 

“I fear that the present comprehensive plan’s designation of Highway 34 as an industrial corridor means that large mega industry could eclipse the existing community, its naturally beautiful resources and its settled people.”

Donita Harris, a small farmer who also has a full time job to support her farm, said her farm is almost entirely eclipsed by the proposed industrial site.

As a small farmer, Harris said she provides eggs, milk, goats, honey and other products for her neighbors and the community where she lives.

“I have spent blood, sweat and tears trying to make a go of my little farm. At my age I can’t start over on another piece of property.

“I am asking you to please not rezone the area industrial,” she said. “I know that industry is big and important. But small people are important too.”

But for the second time, the Gum Springs residents’ pleas to council fell on deaf ears for the most part.

While the Fairfield County Planning Commission voted in support of the residents last month, recommending against the rezoning, county council voted 5-2 on first reading to rezone the land, with Councilmen Douglas Pauley and Clarence Gilbert voting against the rezoning.

“The planning commission voted unanimously not to rezone the property and this council should do the same,” Councilman Douglas Pauley said. “We have plenty of other areas that are designated for commercial and industrial use. In the last 10 years, Fairfield County has lost over 3,000 residents. We cannot afford to lose anymore due to us not considering their feelings when it comes to their residential communities.”

Chairman Moses Bell said he had wrestled with the decision of how to vote, but this property could bring a $100 million to $2 billion investment.

“I have always fought for protecting residential areas, but I have to vote on what I believe is best for this county to grow and prosper,” Bell said.

Council voted 4-2 to rezone the property with Pauley and Gilbert voting against rezoning.

The next council meeting and final vote on the rezoning is set for Monday, July 13 at the new County Government Complex.


  1. Jeff Schaffer says

    When will the citizens see what the hell is going on?
    4 or, 5 will always vote in lock step and the opposing 2 will continue to oppose the idiots at the helm.

    Jeff Schaffer
    Lake Monticello

  2. Jeff Schaffer,

    I appreciate your comment and certainly understand as I am a Gumsprings Road resident. At this point it’s a matter of building a case and we need as much evidence humanly possible. If it were your property wouldn’t you be as determined as us?

    Peter Gainey
    Gumsprings Road
    Winnsboro SC

  3. Marcus Polk says

    There’s an underlying reason for this action. Follow the money trail and see who is rewarded for any industrial development there.

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