Columbia, SC — On Dec. 13, Columbia’s Design/Development Review Commission voted 7-1 to reject a plan to build student housing on a parcel where the Palmetto Compress warehouse is located, because the plan did not follow the Innovista Masterplan Guidelines in several aspects.
The staff did not give “a unanimous recommendation” to approve the plan, as Jeff Goodyn wrote in his Jan. 11 letter (“Building can’t be preserved”). What it gave the commission was a list of changes to include in a motion “should the Commission make a motion to approve.”
On Jan. 10, the commission —under pressure from City Council and the Chamber of Commerce, according to some sources — voted 5-4 to grant a rehearing of the project, although there was no new information to be presented, as the criteria for rehearing require.
This creates a dangerous precedent: Any applicant unhappy with a commission decision should be granted a rehearing. After all, why grant it to Edwards Communities and not somebody else? That is sending the message that the commission’s decisions have no weight.
The project did not meet the Innovista Masterplan Guidelines on Dec. 13. No changes have been made, so it still will not meet these guidelines when the rehearing takes place. The commissioners should not approve a project that is not compliant; that would devaluate their decisions even more.
The principals of the developing company, Ohio-based Edwards Communities, will not have to live with the consequences of this decision. Their priority is not what is good for Columbia. I live here, and I sincerely hope that the commission will stick to its original decision.