Potential new use for St. Andrews home causes concern among neighbors

08/26/2014 8:39 PM

08/26/2014 8:40 PM

Some homeowners expressed worry Tuesday that allowing a caregiver assistance center in their St. Andrews neighborhood sets the stage for commercial intrusion.

Concern is strong about “what else it could lead to down the road” by easing the residential character of the Whitehall area, Stuart Drumheller, who lives across the street from the site, told Lexington County Council.

Like others, he said the plan sought by television personality Leeza Gibbons isn’t a problem but could invite unwanted development to follow.

“I’m scared to death it opens Pandora’s box,” agreed Jim Zeigler, whose home adjoins the site.

Council members pledged to oppose commercial development.

“Anything that will disturb or not fit in your neighborhood, it will not pass,” council chairman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo said. “This is a fit.”

Gibbons wants to convert a local landmark – the residence of the late University of South Carolina trustee and Midlands philanthropist Michael Mungo – into a center aiding people caring for others with major diseases.

The house on its 1.7-acre site at St. Andrews Road has been largely empty since Mungo’s death in 2010.

A nonprofit organization created by Gibbons is seeking to get the property rezoned from residential to recreational/agricultural use.

The facility would offer free services for those coping with the stress of chronic or terminal disease from which a relative or friend is suffering.

Gibbons’ father, Carlos, told council members his daughter wants to be a good neighbor in the area where she grew up.

Helping caregivers stay “in good health” is vital to those they assist, he said.

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