Richland County Council rebuffed a commercial development near homes on Clemson Road, after a string of Northeast Richland residents said the project would damage the character of their community.
Developers revealed at Tuesday night’s public hearing that the anchor for the 15.4-acre tract would be a small-scale Wal-Mart grocery store.
But residents argued the county should heed its long-range plans for land, near the intersection of Clemson and Hard Scrabble roads, to develop with less-intense uses so as to shield nearby homes.
“Please, please just stick with your vision,” resident Scott Shealy urged.
The rezoning issue was a hot button for many who said Northeast Richland is becoming over-developed, with two vacant grocery stores at the intersection already and large tracts of cleared land awaiting development.
“I just don’t see the benefit of it going where the developers want it to go,” said Angela Jones, a 14-year resident of the Wellington subdivision. “Love where I live. Do not want to move.”
But Jones detailed a number of drug stores and gas stations nearby, saying more just aren’t necessary.
Glen Jones, on the other hand, said another grocery store would provide options. With two grocery-store chains having closed, he said, “what we’ve seen is a rise in our prices because it’s minimized competition.”
Even those who’d worked with the Dallas-based developers to add fences, landscaping and other protections said they were unsure whether to sign their names in the “for” or “against” column.
Lorelei Puthuff, president of the Brookfield Homeowners Association, said residents didn’t want commercial development on the site but saw the 6-2 vote of the Richland County Planning Commission earlier this month as “a telling sign” that it was inevitable. So the board started to negotiate with Cypress Equities.
When it came time to vote, though, Councilman Jim Manning said he was concerned by the county planning commission’s rationale. The citizen board recommended a change from rural to general commercial use.
“This runs counter to our current comprehensive plan, which we as elected leaders need to look to for our vision,” said Manning, who represents the area.
The council rejected the change.
Afterward, in the foyer, residents congratulated one another. Some said they’d be sending Manning Christmas cards.