The desire to protect one's property from undesirable development and the desire of a property owner to use his land however he sees fit warred against the other Tuesday at Aiken County Council's meeting.
Debate on a proposed rezoning of 50 acres in Graniteville and a proposed rezoning of nearly 400 acres along Good Hope Farms and Silver Bluff roads lasted over an hour and touched on not only the reasoning behind the rezoning requests, but on the merits of the zoning districts themselves.
Milton Williams wants to rezone 50 acres of land located off Daughters Lane in Graniteville to agricultural preservation (AP) from single-family residential (RD). Attorney Buzz Rich, who spoke for Williams initially, said he was puzzled as to why the rezoning was controversial because an AP zoning district is much more restrictive than RD.
“He could do many things with his land (zoned RD),” Rich said.
The Aiken County Planning Commission unanimously recommended to Council that it not approve the rezoning. The Commission felt the area was more residential than agricultural.
An AP district, while more restrictive, does allow livestock uses, and that appeared to unsettle some neighbors.
“We don't want any farming back there if any Martin family moves back and wants to build homes,” said Mozell Martin Parks.
Williams' rezoning application detailed that his intended use for the land was to graze cattle.
The cattle will only graze there temporarily, Williams said. He'll also grow hay.
“The cows won't be near their houses at all. I just want to graze a few cows and cut hay,” he said.
The rezoning was approved on first reading by majority. Councilmembers Kathy Rawls, Sandy Haskell, Gary Bunker and Chairman Ronnie Young voted for approval. Councilmembers Scott Singer, LaWana McKenzie and Willar Hightower voted in opposition. Councilman Chuck Smith was not present.
The owners of 392 acres of property along Good Hope Farms Road and Silver Bluff Road originally requested to rezone their land to AP. Their primary reason, according to several land owners, was to protect the area from the development of RV parks and campgrounds.
However, they want a different zoning now in light of the discovery that AP permits up to four RVs and mobile homes. The residents asked for a rezoning to rural horse district with a five-acre minimum lot size.
Several people said RVs and mobile homes will negatively impact their property values and no one will be interested in purchasing property in the area.
“If we get more trailers in there, no one is going to look at my house at all,” one woman said.
Diane Turnbull and her brother own 7.5 acres in the area left to them by their mother.
“We want to split it in the future. We can't do that under RH5B (because of the 5-acre minimum),” she said.
Councilman Scott Singer said he knows of the owners of three parcels that do not wish to rezone to RH5B. He believes those three could be pulled from the application before final reading and rezoned to AP.
“I do think there is an opportunity here to get all parties what they want,” he said.
The proposed rezoning to RH5B passed unanimously.