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County council gives rezoning first reading approval

Parcel slated to be future site of Dollar General store

Posted: July 16, 2018 5:30 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council gave first reading approval to a request to rezone 10 acres located on Wateree Dam Road near Longtown Road during its July 10 meeting.

The property is part of a 26-acre parcel currently zoned MRD-1 (Conservation Resource District). The idea is to rezone 10 acres, bordered by Longtown Road and Wateree Dam Road, to GD (General Development) to allow for commercial use.

Specifically, the request, made by Coastal Development Partners, is for the purpose of allowing a Dollar General store to be built there.

The planning commission approved the request unanimously during its June meeting.

A large group of area residents showed up for the council meeting, many of whom spoke during public comment period. Those who expressed opposition to the development brought up several concerns, including increased traffic and safety issues, potential noise and increased crime and, ultimately, concerns that one commercial development will inevitably lead to others that might further erode the character of the area.

“We made a choice to live in a rural area,” Derrick Proctor, who lives near the property. “A rezoning would change that rural character, we believe, to its detriment.”

He also noted that some 41 people, including himself, have signed a petition asking council to deny the rezoning.

However, about an equal number of residents appear to be in favor of the proposal, noting that the store would be a valuable and convenient addition to the area.

“I am in support of the Dollar General,” Dale Hall, a Lake Wateree resident, said. “I believe it would be of great benefit to the area, and the benefit would outweigh any potential problems.”

Several residents spoke of the development being a potential nuisance to area churches as well, including a Methodist Church located across from the site.

Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr., however, noted that he knows many people, including relatives, who attend that church, none of whom have raised concerns about the Dollar General to him.

“You really don’t need to speak for people you haven’t actually talked to yet,” he said. “I am offended when people purport to do that.”

In fact, he said, the only complaints he personally has heard have not been about any potential new development, such as the Dollar General, but about a couple of existing businesses, which more than a few people referred to as “beer joints.”
Tucker said he would support the rezoning on first reading so that the discussion can continue; if voted down at first reading, it could not come back for another year.

Councilman Ben Connell also said he was willing to support it on first reading to allow the process to work and to gather more information.

“I think we need to look at whether it fits in with our future land use maps for the area,” he said. “I also think it is a business that has a specific market, fills a need, and adds value.”

Greg Googer, who appeared before council on behalf of the developer, said Dollar General actually has many of the same concerns as many of the residents and works diligently to address those concerns. He noted Dollar General’s market is rural areas and the store and developer carefully choose sites, usually higher traffic intersections and roads.

“We also don’t want bad neighbors” he said. “In fact, Dollar General has a list of types of businesses they don’t want as neighbors, and they stipulate that those businesses will not be allowed to relocate adjacent to them before they will buy the property.”

Googer also said Dollar General tries to keep traffic safety in mind and works with S.C. Dept. of Transportation with regard to placement of curb cuts and access points on roads.

But Councilman Al Bozard, who lives in the area and said he has been approached by a number of residents who are not in favor of it, said he would be voting against it.

“There’s a lot more involved than just building a store,” he said. “There are a number of issues that need to be addressed.”

Tucker said he was pleased everyone could come together, even with differing opinions, to discuss the matter in a civil manner and said he believes that further open communication between developer and residents would go a long way to resolving many concerns.

Googer told council and the public he is always available to answer questions and speak with anyone about the project and repeated his cell phone number so everyone there could obtain if they wished. That number is (864) 621-3692.

Council approved first reading of the rezoning on a 6-1 vote, with Council Chair Julian Burns and Councilmen Dennis Arledge, Connell, Tom Gardner, Jimmy Jones and Tucker voting in favor and Bozard casting the lone dissenting vote.

Other business discussed:

• Council passed second reading of an ordinance authorizing execution of a first amendment to an option agreement between Kershaw County and Earnest Health Holdings.

• Council heard a presentation from Planning and Zoning Director Michael Conley regarding the new planning and zoning internet portal on the county website.

• At Councilman Tucker’s request, council removed from the agenda a proposal to reconsider the budget ordinance, which council passed during its June 26 meeting.

Kershaw County Council meets at 5:30 p.m. July 24 in the County Government Center, 515 Walnut St., Camden. Meetings are open to the public. For more information go to www.kershawcounty.gov.

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