The Charleston County Planning Commission on Wednesday refused to immediately approve zoning changes that would allow the county's Bees Ferry Landfill and many other businesses in operation prior to April 1999 to expand without seeking special zoning exceptions.

The rule change was requested by county officials after the county's 2008 permit to expand a section of the landfill by 5.5 acres and increase its height to 168 feet was thrown out by an administrative law judge.

The judge, ruling on a legal challenge from a developer with land adjacent to the county landfill, said the county had violated its zoning rules by not getting a zoning exception before seeking the permit. The proposed rule changes would say a zoning exception isn't needed to expand the landfill.

The Planning Commission initially voted to approve the changes, but then reconsidered, and voted to postpone the decision until next month.

Several commissioners said they needed more time to study the zoning regulation changes.

"I feel like we're being asked to be a rubber stamp for the (county) attorney's office and the council, and I don't appreciate that," said Commissioner Charlie Smith.

Trenholm Walker, an attorney representing the developers who challenged the county's expansion permit for the construction and demolition waste section of the landfill, said the proposed zoning regulation changes were clearly an attempt to get around the judge's ruling.

He said the county should leave the existing regulations in place, which would allow the landfill to expand, but would first require the county to hold a public hearing and get a zoning exception.

The Planning Commission will revisit the issue at 4 p.m. July 13.