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KCC gives first nod to rezoning to help disabled man

Posted: October 1, 2010 5:35 p.m.
Updated: October 4, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council recently did its part to help a local, down-on-his-luck man pick up the pieces after an automobile accident in 2005 left him partly paralyzed by approving his request to have a parcel of land rezoned.

The vote Tuesday to change approximately two acres on Wildwood Lane from R-15 residential district zoning to RD-2 rural resource district zoning was 6-1, with Councilman Stephen Smoak opposing.

Smoak said later in the week that while he was sympathetic to the resident’s situation, he believes it “sets a dangerous precedent for future re-zoning requests.”

“We have a comprehensive zoning and land use plan for a reason, and if you carve out enough exceptions, then eventually you won’t have a plan at all,” Smoak said, adding that the county planning and zoning department didn’t recommend the rezoning.

The resident making his case, Dennis Richardson of Lugoff, first addressed council last month, saying his aunt’s property on Wildwood Lane, where he used to have a manufactured home, had been rezoned a year after his house burned down in January 2004. In the year after the home burned, Richardson was in an automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down.

For the past few years, Richardson’s been staying with another aunt and living off a disability check. He said he wasn’t aware of the regulations and received no notification when the county rezoned the land to residential district zoning, which does not allow manufactured housing.

“Please help me get my independence back ... just find it in your heart,” Richardson said to council last week. “I’m not asking for a million dollars. I just want to get my land rezoned so I can have a place to live.”

If not for the kindness of his aunt, Richardson said he’d be homeless.

He spoke in front of the county’s planning commission during a public hearing on Sept. 9, explaining his circumstance.
But both the commission and the Kershaw County Department of Planning and Zoning did not recommend the rezoning. However, planning and zoning Director John Newman said that was an “impersonal” decision based solely on the guidelines of the county’s zoning and land development regulations.

Councilman Jimmy Jones expressed sympathy for Richardson at the Sept. 28 meeting, saying he wants to “cut through” some of the bureaucracy in order to help Richardson.

“Life is not black and white. You have to be able to work through those gray areas,” Jones said.

Though council will have to pass two more readings, it’s still a start for Richardson, who said he has a mobile home ready for purchase and is just waiting for final approval.

Richardson nodded his thanks to council following the vote.

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