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Rezoning hearing for Beechwood tonight
To be future home of Karesh Long Term Care Center
Beechwood Map (W).jpg
This map, provided by the city of Camden, shows the property known as Beechwood as a mostly red quadrangle with the location and general appearance of the future Karesh Long Term Care Center overlaid in green. Broad Street is to the east (right) and Liberty Hill Road, or S.C. 97, to the northeast where the Health Services District of Kershaw County has also purchased property to create the main entrance to the facility.

The Camden Planning Commission will hold a public hearing tonight to gather input on a proposal to rezone Beechwood on Knights Hill Drive -- the future home of Karesh Long-Term Care -- from a planned development district (PDD) to master planned development (MPD) district.

The Health Services District of Kershaw County (HSDKC) announced in October 2018 that it was purchasing the former residential estate for $500,000 with plans to move the Karesh center there as a stand-alone facility separate from KershawHealth. The “Karesh Wing” had been part of KershawHealth’s operations for decades; that relationship essentially ended when the formerly public hospital became part of a private enterprise.

HSDKC Chairman Derial Ogburn informed both city and county councils last October that the board’s intent is to build a new Karesh Wing along with a new rehabilitation center.

“We’re going to move forward with this property and locate our Karesh Wing there,” Ogburn said at the time. “We will also increase our bed size at the Karesh Wing from 96 beds to 132 beds. These will be long-term care beds as well as rehabilitation beds.”

Although Beechwood’s main entrance is on Knights Hill Road, the HSDKC also purchased a piece of property between the U.S. Post Office and the Kershaw County Mental Health Clinic on S.C. 97. An entrance to the property will be created there using an easement across the back of the clinic’s property to the Karesh facility. The new buildings will be built in the northeastern portion of Beechwood behind Food Lion.

Tonight’s hearing is predicated on the need to convert the Beechwood property from a PDD to an MPD due to changes in state law dating back about five years. Last December, city council gave final approval to an ordinance creating MPD districts in order to comply with the new law.

“The main problem was the state definition of PDDs is that they had to contain some combination of commercial, industrial or residential uses, not just all of one type,” City Planner Shawn Putnam explained Monday. “We actually updated our PDD zoning with percentages -- so, if someone created a PDD that was mostly commercial, it would have to be 10 percent residential, or vice-versa.”

Putnam said Charleston County had passed a PDD zoning change of an agricultural area only to reduce lot sizes. Neighboring residents sued, and the case ended up at the S.C. Supreme Court where judges ruled PDDs had to be mixed, invalidating the Charleston County rezoning.

For the moment, Putnam said the HSDKC only plans for Karesh are “commercial,” in the sense that no residential units are being built at this time.

“It could be 15 or 20 years before we see any kind of residential units, if any, so we advised them to use an MPD. In this case, it’s going to be a nursing home. If they want to come back to build residential cottages, they will have to go back through the rezoning process.”

Today’s hearing will begin at 6 p.m. If the planning commission recommends the zoning change, city council will hold two readings on an ordinance effecting that change as part of the approval process.

Meanwhile, HSDKC Executive Director Sallie Harrell confirmed that the board recently put the former Burndale Shopping Center property on East DeKalb Street up for sale. KershawHealth purchased the approximately 4-acre property in 2008 and once hoped to transform it into a facility focused, at least in part, on women’s health.

“We don’t have an asking price,” Harrell said. “We want people to do their research and make us best offers.”

She also said demolition continues at the old Pine Tree Hill Elementary School on Lakeshore Drive.

“We’ve had some folks ask us about that property, so the board is going to be looking at that, too. It’d be nice to wrap this all together,” Harrell said.