Carolina Nurseries

The old Carolina Nurseries site has about two miles of frontage along Highway 52. File

MONCKS CORNER — Berkeley County Council on Monday denied a rezoning for the former Carolina Nurseries site, sending developers back to the drawing board.

In the discussion, Supervisor Bill Peagler also cast his first vote in 20 months in office — not on the rezoning, but on a parliamentary procedure that allowed council to clarify an earlier vote on the agenda. As supervisor, Peagler only votes if there is a tie.

ZZ Real Estate, an affiliate of North Charleston-based industrial conglomerate The InterTech Group Inc., wanted to rezone the 688-acre former plant farm on U.S. Highway 52 from heavy industrial and flex-1, or agricultural, to a combination of industrial, commercial and residential uses.

Plans were to split the site between industry, commercial and up to 924 housing units, including as many as 400 apartments.

Before the vote Monday, nearby resident Chris Volf said she attended public hearings where residents' concerns were allayed.

“We that attended this meeting watched in awe as a world-class community project was laid out by the owners,” she said.

In a roll-call vote, five of eight council members were against the rezoning: Kevin Cox, Josh Whitley, Tommy Newell, Dennis Fish and Caldwell Pinckney.

The developer has made substantial changes since July, when the request was denied by a council committee that cited increased traffic and other issues, said Councilman Jack Schurlknight. The intention Monday was to send it back to committee, but the denial means it has to go back to square one.

Rezoning requests that are denied cannot be reconsidered for a year unless there are major changes, Deputy Supervisor Les Blankenship said. But even a changed request must go before the Planning Commission before the council and its committee, taking months to get final approval.

“In all fairness, I think it’s senseless for the owner and developer to go back through the Planning Commission process when it’s going to be coming back through us anyway,” he said.

Council also voted against an ordinance approving the site's development agreement without a roll call. The rezoning and the agreement typically go hand-in-hand and have the same vote, but this time did not. 

After the vote, Peagler pronounced the ordinance denied, but two minutes later, after council had addressed several other items, Deputy Supervisor Tim Callanan whispered to Peagler, who then asked to return to the item for a recount, saying the vote should have been 4-4.

Councilmen Ken Gunn, Steve Davis, Cox and Fish voted to return for the second vote, and Peagler voted with them, breaking the tie.

The development ordinance failed by a 6-2 vote with Gunn and Davis voting for it. Schurlknight said he changed his vote the second time "just to keep it clean and move it back to Planning Commission.” No one else mentioned changing a vote.

ZZ Acquisitions loaned about $12 million to the wholesale nursery in March 2009 but when the nursery was crippled by the recession and unable to repay the loan, the lender foreclosed. ZZ Acquisitions acquired it in late 2010 at a public auction. 

Officials with ZZ Real Estate did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday.

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Reach Brenda Rindge at 843-937-5713. Follow her on Twitter @brindge.

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