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Council approves Elgin rezonings

Posted: October 2, 2017 3:56 p.m.
Updated: October 3, 2017 1:00 a.m.

After a protracted discussion, Kershaw County Council gave final approval to a pair of rezoning requests for properties located near Elgin. 

Council unanimously passed a request to rezone 44.7 acres on Watson Street, Elgin, owned by Brandon Goff, from R-15 to R-6. Both are single-family residential zoning designations, however, R-6 allows higher density in development than R-15, which provides for the sparsest developmental density in the county’s zoning codes.

According to the request, the owner is asking for higher density zoning because soil testing has shown that about three-fourths of the property cannot be serviced with septic systems. Because of this, they said, the developer will have to tie into the county sewer system and, in order to do so, will have to build a pump and lift station. Thus, to make the development profitable, the owner said the developer will have to be able to build more houses than are currently allowed under the present R-15 zoning.

Councilman Dennis Ar-ledge, who cast the lone opposition vote on second reading during council’s Sept. 12 meeting, noted concerns about numbers of lots, population, traffic and other issues. One concern was an initial calculation that showed some 8.7 buildable lots per acre. However, engineer David Parr, who is working on the proposed development, said the lot sizes proposed in this development work out to about 3.65 buildable lots per acre.

“I do have some concerns -- we voted against a similar rezoning of a property on Lachicotte Road based on traffic and other concerns,” Arledge said. “My question is, what’s the difference between Watson Street and Lachicotte Road?”

Councilman Jimmy Jones responded that there were major differences in the areas.

“Lachicotte Road has much higher traffic counts, industrial traffic and would have been inadequate to handle such a traffic increase,” Jones said. “Watson Street has much lower traffic counts, fewer homes, almost no commercial development and any traffic can easily be accommodated by Highway 1. You’re definitely looking at an apple and an orange.” 

Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. said he disagreed with Jones regarding his assessment of traffic, noting that U.S. 1 in Elgin is very congested, especially at certain times of the day.

Councilman Al Bozard noted that the planning commission had studied and recommended approval of the rezoning and he felt comfortable in voting in favor of it.

Council voted unanimously to approve it, with Arledge stating that his concerns had been sufficiently addressed. 

Council then turned its attention to a rezoning request for 133.91 acres on Fort Jackson Road in Elgin, owned by Charles Ives, from R-15 to R-10. Under the rezoning, the number of buildable lots would increase from 163 to 211.

While there has been relatively little feedback from the community regarding either rezoning request, there have been some concerns expressed by the Kershaw County School District.

Councilman Ben Connell had cast the lone opposition vote regarding the rezoning during the Sept. 12 second reading. Since that time, he said, his concerns -- which, in addition to traffic and density, had to do with certain amenities planned for the community -- had been adequately addressed.

Council Chairman Julian Burns said he supports a property owner’s rights to develop his property, but that he was concerned that the discussion regarding these rezonings had deviated somewhat from standards codified in the county zoning ordinance.

“If we are going to base decisions on criteria not listed in our ordinance, such as amenities, then perhaps we need to revisit the ordinance and have a discussion as to whether those things need to be in the ordinance,” he said.

Other business discussed:

• Council ratified a mutual/automatic aid agreement with Lugoff Fire District for the West Wateree area of the county. Under the agreement, Lugoff Fire-Rescue will automatically respond to calls for structure fires in the West Wateree area. Council also, after lengthy discussion, agreed to allow the county administrator to disburse a one-time payment of $15,000 to the Lugoff Fire District to help defray the cost of sending crews on county structure fire calls.

• Council gave final approval for an ordinance allowing the Kershaw County School District to enter into a sublease agreement and to execute a limited warranty deed for property where KCSD plans to build the new Applied Technological Education Center.

• Council heard a presentation from Donny Supplee and Archie Todd, chair and vice chair of the Kershaw County Housing Authority, regarding the disposition of funds from the county that had been previously used to augment funding for New Day on Mill, a temporary shelter for victims of domestic violence.

• Council discussed revisiting funding for Santee-Wateree Regional Transit Authority (S-WRTA), which provides a bus service in this region, including in Kershaw County. Council had reduced its funding to S-WRTA from $19,000 to $1,000 in the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget. After some discussion, council agreed to table the discussion until S-WRTA can provide requested information regarding ridership numbers, total revenues and other such information. Thus far, S-WRTA has not provided that information, despite multiple requests from council.

Kershaw County Council next meets at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 in the County Government Center, 515 Walnut St., Camden.

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