Temporary labor services may be barred from neighborhood commercial areas

ccope@thestate.comSeptember 8, 2013 

  • If you go

    What: Columbia Planning Commission

    When: 5:15 p.m. on Sept. 9

    Where: Eau Claire Print Building, 3907 Ensor Ave.

— The Columbia Planning Commission on Monday will consider banning temporary labor services in areas such as North Main Street, Five Points and near universities.

Job candidates congregate outside of temporary labor services, waiting to see if they can pick up a daily job, which is not compatible with districts adjacent to neighborhoods, said Krista Hampton, director of planning and development services.

“You want less-intense uses in neighborhood commercial districts,” Hampton said.

The appropriate uses would be conveniences such as basic retail, restaurants and hair salons, she said.

Joshua McDuffie, a resident of the Cottontown/Bellevue neighborhood, said he was alarmed when he saw that under current zoning restrictions, a day labor business could locate near or within his neighborhood.

“Personally, I felt that the types of activities of this particular use was more suited towards property that’s fully commercial,” McDuffie said.

Trojan Labor is a temporary labor service company with a branch on Assembly Street, a commercial area.

Trojan Labor provides a variety of labor for companies including construction, manufacturing, industrial, janitorial, recycling centers and moving companies.

“A lot of people that come to us are looking just to work,” said Luke Stemple, the owner of the Columbia branch.

Those people may not be able to find a permanent job or are between jobs, he said. Trojan Labor is able to provide them a quick form of employment, he said.

Some employees may end up getting full-time employment through the company, he said.

The office is a good location for the business because of high visibility for potential employees and customers, Stemple said. Proximity to foot traffic, vehicular traffic and public transportation, is an advantage to the location.

Stemple did not have a specific opinion and said he would leave it up to the city to decide whether companies like his should be allowed in areas near neighborhoods.

“We open early in the morning, so I can see how that would be disruptive to a neighborhood,” Stemple said.

Most temporary labor companies open up around 5 a.m., he said. The amount of people that meet at the office can range from a handful of people to a couple dozen or more, Stemple said.

The company tries to minimize having a large amount of people in the office by setting up work ahead of time and allowing employees to go straight to a jobsite.

The proposed ordinance would prevent future temporary labor businesses from coming to the neighborhood commercial areas.

Hampton was not aware of any of the businesses currently located in neighborhood commercial areas. However, if some did exist, those businesses would be permitted to stay, she said.

Reach Cope at 803-771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope.

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