Blythewood community speaks out about proposed rezoning for 90-acre development

Richland County councilman Derrik Pugh, second from left, and councilwoman Jessica Mackey talk with constituents about proposal to rezone 90 acres. | Barbara Ball

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood developer Kevin Steelman told folks who gathered at the Killian Park recreation park Tuesday night that Rimer Pond Road traffic is not anywhere near capacity, and that without more new homes, their taxes will go up.

That was a hard sell for most of those in attendance.

The town hall meeting was arranged by Richland County Councilman Derrek Pugh who represents Blythewood’s District 2 on council. Councilwoman Jessica Mackey (Dist. 9) co-hosted the meeting.

Pugh said he wanted residents to know what is coming their way, to give them a chance to be informed about a proposed rezoning in their community, and to have a say as it goes before council for a vote.

Steelman will go before Richland County Council next month to request rezoning for 90 acres on Kelly Mill Road (north of EJW Road) from Rural (RU) zoning to Residential Estate (RS-E) zoning. He told residents who attended the meeting that, if the rezoning is approved, he plans to build 198 single-family detached homes on large ‘estate’ lots, or 2.18 units per acre. Rural zoning would allow 1.32 units per acre.

According to the Richland County zoning ordinances, RS-E would provide for low to medium density residential development.

Michael Watts

In December, the Richland County Planning Commission recommended approval of his request.

The issue will go before county council March 28 for a public hearing and the first of three readings (votes). If his request is approved, he said the first homes will start going up in October, 2024.

Steelman said the neighborhood would be similar to the Autumn Pond neighborhood he developed at the intersection of Rimer Pond and Hardscrabble. The home prices, he said, would range from $400,000 to $500,000 and would feature hardy plank and vinyl siding.

Residents in attendance pushed back with questions about traffic, overbuilding, already overburdened schools, lack of proper infrastructure and more.

Steelman countered that the reason the district is having difficulty hiring teachers is because there aren’t places for them to live. He also said the new industries coming to Blythewood are counting on their employees having places to live. He says his development will help to accommodate that need.

Kelly Bush, who lives in Lake Carolina, disagreed.

Tracy Cooper

“You can’t make me believe that your neighborhood has to be built to accommodate all these new employees,” Bush said. “I don’t know why Richland County can’t look at the infrastructure they have – roads, schools, everything – and determine if the services are there. If not, deny the building permit and stop building.”

Michael Watts, a lifelong resident of Rimer Pond Road agreed with Bush.

“In my mind, it’s time to just say, ‘Stop building out here,’” Watts said. “Just stop for a little while. Get together with the people who live here and pay the taxes. I appreciate Derrek Pugh and the new council members who have gone out on a limb against the powerful interests of the developers and real estate agents to say no to housing projects out here. We have plenty of lots available already, planned and approved by the county for these 1,800 employees coming here,” he said.

“This development is too much, too soon, too fast for us,” Tracy Cooper of Crickentree neighborhood, told Steelman. The proposed development would be just down the road from her home.


  1. Patty C says

    SC teachers are not going to buy a $400,000 house unless they moved from the Northeast.

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