Plan to build Dreher athletic facilities advances, but city leaders demand compromise

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It was set to be a long meeting with more than four dozen people signed up to speak. Instead, Tuesday night, Columbia City Council quickly made a decision on a controversial topic.

All but one council member voted to rezone Dreher High School. After the vote was recorded, most of the room applauded.

Richland One has sought the rezoning to pave the way for it to install a multi-use turfed field for J-V football and soccer and five new tennis courts. Both would have lights. Dreher's allies said the new facilities are needed to prevent student-athletes from driving elsewhere – and some of them can't even drive.

However, some of Dreher's neighbors, however, are worried about the impact:  more traffic, noise, and light pollution.

"You're trying to put a size 14 foot into a size 6 shoe. I mean, it just doesn't fit!" said Donald Tudor, whose house border Dreher.

Even though the council voted in Dreher's favor Tuesday night, the plan will need another vote from council before it's official, and Mayor Steve Benjamin hopes both sides will come together and agree to compromise before that happens.

Compromise, though, might be hard to achieve.

"I'm not sure it's going to be successful, because I really don't expect the district to come forward in good faith and negotiate," Tudor said.

"We've given more and more concessions, and I don't really know of any from the community," answered Richland One Commissioner Darrell Black.

The next meeting – and the important second vote – will happen April 17th.

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