Aiken City Council voted 6-1 to approve a concept plan for future development of a residential assisted living facility off Whiskey Road, with the motion excluding a driveway connection onto Stratford Drive.

Councilman Philip Merry was the only Council member to oppose the motion on first reading during Councilís regular meeting on Monday.

Applicants Smith Packett Med-Com LLC and Gerald Waters made requests for the assisted living facility and a possible medical facility last month in front of the Aiken Planning Commission, proposing construction on an 11.8-acre lot on Whiskey Road and Stratford Drive.

The property is part of a 25-acre lot, most of which is already developed residentially as Springstone Villas. The remaining 11.8 acres remain undeveloped. Construction of the 75,000-square-foot residential assisted living facility will be the proposed first phase of development. The facility will face Whiskey Road and sit next to Sizemore Road.

The request was initially passed by the Planning Commission, with the only change being that there will be a driveway connection onto Stratford Drive, and the driveway onto Whiskey Road will be a full driveway, not a restricted right-in, right-out drive.

A large group of residents who live in the proposed development voiced criticism of the development having a driveway access onto Stratford Drive, but approved the development as a whole.

Those residents cited safety issues and uncertainty of traffic flow due to reasonings that the developers were unsure whether a medical facility would be developed next to the assisted living facility. Smith Packett representatives cited the assisted living facility would total less than 300 trips per day, including the facilityís staff and residents; a number they said was relatively low.

In past public hearings, Council had denied a request made by the developers of the Holiday Inn Express off Whiskey Road to have a Stratford Drive connection. Residents asked Council to use that example as reason not to allow the assisted living facility to have one as well.

Council will hold the final reading of the concept plan Monday, Sept. 8.

In other business, Council unanimously voted on a final reading to waive its right of refusal to repurchase the Coca-Cola property located in Ventures Industrial Park, and instead, allow Coca-Cola to sell the property to Queen Harvey to be turned into a conference center.

Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter.