Council nixes Collins Road rezoning after uproar

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INDIAN LAND – For years, Gary Holland has enjoyed a peaceful, quiet existence at his Collins Road home, but the prospect of a tractor supply store moving nearby roused him to action last month.
Joined by fellow neighbors and a smattering of other Indian Land residents, Holland vehemently opposed a proposed land rezoning during Lancaster County Council’s Feb. 25 meeting.
The two-acre parcel of land in question, located at the intersection of Collins and Henry Harris roads, just down the street from Holland’s home, was on council’s agenda for a proposed rezoning from R-45 rural residential/agricultural district to B-3 general commercial district.
According to documents from the county planning department, landowner Betty Howie requested the rezoning to give her grandson the property, so he could relocate his business, Yarborough Farm Tractors and Equipment. The current location is along U.S. 521, though the land is part of an estate that needs to be sold.
Holland said the land surrounding his home has been zoned residential for as long as he’s been there, at least 20 years, and he wished for it to remain that way.
“There are all sorts of locations it (the business) could go, but my wife and I are very opposed to having B-3 here,” Holland said.
He asked council to follow suit with the county’s planning commission, which voted 6-1 on Jan. 15 to deny the request. Commission members decided the area was not suitable for commercial traffic.
Holding a petition signed by 25 of her neighbors, Shelley Pawlyk also urged council to deny the proposal.
“Most of you may not realize that’s a majority of residents on Collins Road,” Pawlyk said. “The rezoning would open Collins Road up to unknown requests and we don’t know what B-3 would mean for us in the future.”
Aging roads are also an issue in her community, Pawlyk said.
“Collins Road is very fragile and the logistical aspects of adding traffic, I just don’t think it could handle it,” she said.
For Tonya Banbury, another Collins Road resident, the addition of businesses could spell disaster for their corner of the Panhandle.
“One of the reasons people are drawn to that area was its rural charm,” Banbury said. “It’s a community where cows and horses outnumber people by a large margin.”
She loathed the loss of green space in Indian Land, something she said would only be hastened by the rezoning.
“This is detrimental to the heart of our community,” Banbury said.
Maintaining a quiet community was not the only reason some Panhandle residents opposed the idea. For some, there is the ever-present concern of B-3 rezonings.
Jan Tacy, who has lived in Indian Land for years, opposed the rezoning for fear of what businesses could one day move into the rezoned area. A B-3 designation allows at least 89 different uses by retail, office and service establishments.
“This rezoning introduces commercial uses into the center of farm and rural land,” Tacy said. “In Indian Land, B-3 is still a problem. Once property is rezoned B-3, it can be one of 89 uses.”
Council spent considerable time in 2012 discussing various plans to revise the county’s B-3 commercial zoning definitions, though efforts remain stalled.
Various ideas were bandied among council members, though most centered on reducing the number of acceptable businesses in B-3 zones to a more manageable number. A moratorium on B-3 rezonings in the Panhandle was eventually removed last year, while the idea of creating a B-3 overlay district never gained traction.
Longtime Indian Land resident Jane Tanner also urged council not to unleash the problems she believed a B-3 rezoning could bring to the community.
“I feel it’s necessary you vote no, at least until B-3 is revised, because we all know what’s in B-3,” Tanner said.
County Planning Director Penelope Karagounis told council her office had received numerous calls and letters from adjacent homeowners opposing the rezoning, while only two people had voiced support for the plan.
After reviewing the information, Councilman Larry Honeycutt motioned to deny the request.
“The planning commission voted to deny it, the planning department denied it and I motion that we deny it too,” Honeycutt said.
Council then voted unanimously to deny the request.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416