Thursday, April 4, 2013
Town Council’s planning committee recommended rezoning a Central Avenue property for business use over the objections of neighbors who have long suffered the effects of other nearby businesses.
The committee’s unanimous vote comes after the Planning Commission deadlocked on a motion to deny the request.
The final decision will be made by the full council.
William Owens, owner of Summerville Heating and Air, asked the town to rezone the lot at the northwest corner of Atlantic Street and Central Avenue from its current residential designation to a business designation.
He originally wanted B-3, the most liberal designation, but after speaking with staff agreed to seek B-2, a moderate designation, Planning Director Madelyn Robinson said.
In the end, the staff decided to recommend the more restrictive B-1, which allows professional offices, medical clinics, small daycares and similar businesses.
Owens told the committee he bought the land years ago intending to locate his business there but never did. The property is currently a parking lot.
Now he’s getting ready to retire and wants to sell the land, he said, but it’s not going to sell while zoned residential.
“It has no use the way it is,” he said.
Council members agreed it was unlikely anyone would want to build a house on the lot.
The traffic count in 2011 was 16,500 cars, Robinson said.
But neighbors said they didn’t want any businesses there. Linda Whetsell said the neighborhood already has to deal with the noise and dust from businesses behind them.
Whetsell has complained repeatedly to Town Council about the businesses, but most of the land behind the Atlantic Street homes is in the county.
There was a motorcycle rally in the parking lot with strobe lights and loud music, Whetsell said, and neighbors had to call the police.
“That’s all we ask for is to be in peace back there,” Whetsell said.
Owens said he didn’t know his property was used for the party.
Councilman Bob Jackson said having a business on the property instead of just a parking lot could actually be beneficial to the neighborhood.
“At least if somebody put a legitimate business there I don’t think they’re going to want a rock and roll show at their business,” he said.
Brenda McDuffie worried about traffic. The street already gets drivers who fly down the road, not realizing it’s a dead-end street, she said.
She said she’s seen close calls with children getting off the bus.
The street access to the property is from Atlantic Street, so even more people would be driving down their street, she said.
Any requests for access from Central Avenue would need to go through the S.C. Department of Transportation.
Anyone wanting to build something on the property would need to go before the Commercial Design Review Board, which oversees the aesthetics of commercial buildings, Robinson said.
Commercial buildings would also have buffer requirements, Robinson said.
The committee decided to recommend a B-2 zoning, which allows everything in B-1 plus retail stores, banks, larger daycares, mini-warehouses and restaurants without liquor licenses.