Pine Ridge mayoral candidates at odds over pace of development

The mayor's race in Pine Ridge is a tug of war over small-scale commercial development in a town content to be largely a quiet bedroom suburb.

Challenger Hazel Kanipe is using her opposition to a proposed office center that would abut her home as a springboard for a crusade against virtually any new stores and offices.

The fuss over the project "opened my eyes to some things I'm not happy about" after living in town 40 years, the print shop co-owner said.

Tuesday, Kanipe hopes to oust incumbent David Busby, who has served 16 years as the top elected official in this Lexington County community of 2,200.

Busby says the project that sparked Kanipe's challenge is a good fit for a town that needs a little more commercial growth to help pay for service improvements.

The conflict over the proposed center reflects "folks have a different view of progress," he said.

Pine Ridge retains a largely rural flavor, with forested minifarms with horses set amid homes. Utility service for many residences is provided by wells and septic tanks.

A handful of new neighborhoods are on the drawing board, mostly small ones designed for retirees.

Kanipe would close the door on most development until water and sewer service is brought in and major roads are widened.

Those improvements are likely to take many years to accomplish, she said.

Until then, "you want to be careful about what you put out here," she said.

Pine Ridge isn't facing an onslaught of development pressure but needs to lure professional offices like health care, banks and retailers selectively, Busby said.

Doing that enhances revenues to keep pace with slow but steady population growth and provides convenience for residents, he said.

There are 29 businesses now in town, officials said.

"Only commercial (growth) is going to be able to provide the stimulus money we need to get water and sewer," Busby said.

Besides deciding the mayor's race, voters on Tuesday will choose among Floyd Dinkins, Robert Myers and incumbent Roger Simpson for two at-large seats on Town Council.