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A Panhandle rezoning plan is in flux once again, as a special committee tasked to clear up zoning concerns in the northern part of the county voted to disband last week.
The Panhandle/B-3 Overlay Committee, made up of various residents, Lancaster County Council members and representatives from the county planning department, held its last official meeting last week.
District 1 County Councilman Larry McCullough said the committee had delivered what it had been set up to do and he recommended it disband.
“The B-3 committee is concluded, though there’s more to be done,” McCullough said Monday afternoon. “The committee has done a lot of work and we learned a lot of things. Now there’s more work to be done, but the committee, as it was, has concluded.”
The committee met several times during the last few months to develop new definitions for business zonings in the Indian Land area, a plan which was completed and presented to council last month.
The new classifications included definitions for 16 business areas such as offices, shopping centers, medical offices, food services and entertainment establishments, among others. The plan was part of an effort to keep Indian Land’s thoroughfares from becoming cluttered with unsightly strip malls and scattered developments. If approved, the new definitions apply to a special overlay district involving properties along U.S. 521, S.C. 9 and S.C. 160.
Despite the new classifications, several residents have appeared before County Council recently in support of extending a B-3 rezoning moratorium in the Panhandle.
Council decided at its Feb. 27 meeting not to consider the new classifications, but to instead approve extending the moratorium until June 30. Under the moratorium, which was created in 2010, council cannot consider any property rezonings in the Panhandle except for strictly defined economic-development projects.
At council’s Monday meeting, Indian Land resident Jan Tacy urged council to extend the moratorium.
“The argument is that it hurts business, but I’d rather have one shopping center with one curb cut that employs 100 people than have two or three businesses with several curb cuts that employ a few,” she said. “Indian Land is our community and we care about what is built there.”
Jerry Holt, also from Indian Land, worried what would happen if the moratorium was not renewed.
“If you vote to repeal the moratorium after accomplishing nothing over the last 15 months, it’s a complete failure,” Holt said. “Even with the moratorium, development need not stop. I urge you to support keeping the moratorium in effect.”
Council approved second reading of the moratorium ordinance Monday night.
McCullough, who supported the moratorium and participated in the overlay district process, said the committee heard many comments from concerned residents.
“We were hearing that new rules need to be created. We were also hearing that existing rules needed to be reinforced and that would resolve the problems,” McCullough said. “I know there’s even more to learn and there are things we don’t even know yet.”
For now, McCullough said the committee’s intended work is over and the rezoning plan is now in the hands of the county’s Planning Commission.
“The committee achieved its initial stated purpose, which was to develop the districts, 16 different ones, which it did,” he said. “Now it’s been presented to the Planning Commission and they’ll decide what to do at their March 20 meeting.”
McCullough said there are several things that could happen to the new classifications plan, including being accepted, modified, rejected or delayed.
Indian Land resident Jane Tanner said Monday afternoon she was disappointed to learn the committee had disbanded. Tanner has spent several years speaking to County Council members about redefining B-3 classifications in Indian Land.
“All we asked was to redefine, not rezone all of Indian Land. The moratorium was meant to redefine B-3, but they started redefining the whole planning department agenda, which you can’t do in a moratorium time frame,” Tanner said. “They tried to reinvent the wheel.”
Tanner said she felt the committee’s goals and membership grew too large during the last few months, leading to a loss of focus.
“We just wanted something that would say, for example, ‘B-3c’ is for a liquor store and so on. That’s all we asked for because under B-3 you could have 88 different kinds of companies and that was too much of a risk,” Tanner said.
Despite disbanding last week, County Planning Director Chris Karres said the committee will follow through with several previously scheduled meetings.
In an e-mail sent Monday to committee members, Karres said the room has already been reserved, so committee members will use the time to discuss what’s next for the rezoning plan with the Planning Commission.
The committee is scheduled to meet during the following days and times at Del Web Library in Indian Land: today, 5-6:30 p.m.; March 28, 5-7 p.m.; April 11, 5-6:30 p.m.; and April 25, 5-7 p.m.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416