Richland County Councilman vows to defer controversial rezoning vote

Published: Jul. 24, 2023 at 8:48 PM EDT
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RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - The councilman at the heart of a controversial rezoning vote confirmed to WIS he plans to delay it.

Richland County Councilman Jason Branham confirmed to WIS he plans to motion to defer the rezoning for 50 acres of land at the intersection of Broad River Road and Mount Vernon Road at Tuesday’s zoning public hearing.

If the council approved the rezoning, the property could hold 110 homes in the middle of a rural Richland County community.

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A group of neighbors has become vocal opponents of the proposed rezoning, citing concerns over traffic, environmental damage, and noise pollution.

Branham said he has heard the concerns and expressed them to the Pulte Group, the potential developer of the land.

He confirmed the company asked for the vote to be deferred to September and he said it will allow them to study their options.

Branham will need the support of a majority of the council, but Council Chairman Overture Walker told WIS the council gives “significant weight” to the council members representing the impacted districts in potential rezoning.

Neighbor Terry Derrick Rowell said she is unsure how to feel about the news. Rowell is an active opponent of the rezoning, and questioned whether it allows the developer to “regroup.”

She interviewed with WIS before Branham confirmed his stance.

“Truthfully I’m thinking oh my God please no, I don’t want this. It really, I’m up to the point, I could cry tears over it,” she said.

Neighbor Michael Powers expressed concern about the increased traffic a development could have on the roads.

“Think about what they’re doing to a rural country town, not a town, but just family land everybody around here has family land,” he said.

The proposed rezoning has had mixed success, with county staff recommending approval but the county’s planning commission forwarding “no recommendation” after a tie vote.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Richland County Council Chambers.

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