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Unhappy ‘campers’ depart Georgetown County Council meeting

GEORGETOWN — Probably no one concerned with a Pawleys Island/Litchfield-area rezoning request went home happy after the Sept. 22 Georgetown County Council meeting.

One of the 15 people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting called out in a loud voice against council members after they had voted to remand or send back to the Planning Commission the proposed rezoning of a 3.28-acre parcel at the intersection of Waverly and Kings River roads.

Several others also voiced their displeasure.

Currently, the property owned by Calvin Gilmore is zoned One-Half Acre Residential. Gilmore’s agent Bruce Watts is seeking a change to Flexible Design District. The original request was for five buildings with 14 units of multi-family housing.

More than 200 people have written letters or emails opposing the change. Numerous people have attended Georgetown County Planning Commission meetings, as well as two meetings with County Council. About 10 to 15 people have spoken at each of these meetings, expressing their opinions against it.

Voicing their opposition

During the Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 20, that body had received the 200-plus emails, additional written comments and heard from nine speakers who opposed the rezoning request. After considerable discussion, a vote on a motion to deny the request failed at a 3-3 tie. No other motions were offered, so the ordinance was sent to County Council with no recommendation.

First reading of an ordinance came before Council on Sept. 8. Numerous people spoke against the measure at that meeting. The ordinance was given routine first reading by title only at that meeting.

During the Sept. 22 meeting, interim Planning Director Holly Richardson told council that Bruce Watts, the agent for Gilmore, had submitted proposed changes to the plan. The changes included reducing the units from 14 to 10; making them 1 ½ stories high rather than three stories; putting in an access gate to limit through traffic; and stipulating that 2.36 acres would be open space. There were other changes offered to the plan as well.

Many of the speakers addressed density, traffic, flooding and stormwater issues, among others.

Several of them specifically said to Steve Goggans, who represents the area on County Council, that he should vote against the rezoning.

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Many said they weren’t against development as such, but that they believe changing zoning from single family residential to multi-family use was wrong. That zoning would allow up to six homes on this parcel. They also said that such a change would be a violation of the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Chairman John Thomas offered a motion to deny the rezoning request. Since no one offered a second, his motion died.

Goggans offered a motion to remand the rezoning request to the Planning Commission. Raymond Newton offered a second.

Following that, council members asked procedural questions. Among them, Louis Morant asked if the Planning Commission had seen the changes to the request that were presented that night. Richardson said they had not.

County attorney Wesley Bryant also said that council had the option of voting on the rezoning request as it was. It could also consider whether to accept the suggested changes from Watts, or remand it to the Planning Commission so it could review the amended request.

That motion carried so it will be back to the Planning Commission at its next meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, also at Howard Auditorium at 610 Hawkins St. in Georgetown.

Among the angry comments that several people called out were:

“Pass the buck.”

“Thanks for ignoring us.”

“Very, very upsetting. Just ignore the people who vote you into office. We’ll see you next month again.”

With that, most of the people in the audience at Howard Auditorium left the building as council wrapped up the meeting with a few more agenda items.

Reach Nick Masuda at 843-607-0912. Follow him on Twitter at @nickmasudaphoto. 

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