Aiken Planning Commission tabled the Natural Resources Element draft work for a future work session during Tuesday's public meeting.
After some residents spoke in opposition and in support of the draft Element, Commission unanimously voted to take it to a work session without formally scheduling the draft to come back for another public hearing.
As part of the comprehensive plan, the Natural Resources Element draft, formerly known as the Open Space Element, provides the City with policies, goals and objectives on the protection of natural resources on open land. The draft's purpose in 2008 was the continuation of identifying properties around the City of Aiken as well as plots of land around the county to be kept as green spaces. A total of $2.5 million was designed for open space acquisition and preservation between two rounds of the Capital Project Sales Tax.
Two residents stood in opposition of the draft, one of which was James Brinkley who said he did not understand why the draft had taken so long for a vote because it was documented in 2008. He also said that the document needed more clarity.
“I am totally against it,” Brinkley said. “Open space or what? It's $2.5 million going to open space, which is an undefinable term. What is agricultural? Are you going to tell me what I can plant? Sunflowers or soybeans?”
Aiken resident Harry Shealy, who worked on the original draft, spoke in support of moving it to a Council vote and said the continuation of protecting land in Aiken is important for the future.
“We never meant for this to be what everyone has been saying here tonight,” Shealy said. “I strongly recommend you pass this on to City Council and try to find people in the community who are experts.”
In other business, Planning Commission also unanimously recommended an annexation request for a .38-acre lot, located at 601 Douglas Drive. During the work session, Commission alongside Planning Director Ed Evans discussed drafting ordinances regarding electronic signage.
The next Planning Commission meeting will be held Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Municipal Building, located at 214 Park Avenue.
For more information, call 803-642-7608.
Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville.