The Aiken Planning Commission on Tuesday night recommended City Council deny an annexation request and a related concept plan for a proposed affordable housing complex near Whiskey Road, a well-traveled corridor known widely for congestion and traffic blunders.
The Planning Commission, which advises City Council, pointed to what it deemed a lack of suitable infrastructure in the area – between Walmart and Publix and along Dougherty Road and Owens Street, generally speaking.
"I mean it's a nightmare over there," Planning Commission Chairman Jack Hunter said, responding to a comment from an audience member. "I live over there, and I go up and down Dougherty quite regularly."
The recommendation to deny was unanimous, though panel members were hesitant to make the initial motion.
Planning Commission member John Klecker was absent from the meeting and the vote.
Woodford Trace SC LLC requested annexation and concept plan approval for a 48-unit multifamily housing complex at 920 Dougherty Road, a 4.5-acre vacant lot neighboring Palmetto Crossing, an already established affordable housing development.
Thirty of the proposed units would be two-bedroom apartments, according to plans submitted to the city, and 18 of the units would be three-bedroom apartments. Amenities at the planned development include a fitness center, playground, laundry facility and picnic area.
The total development cost is estimated at $8.8 million.
Those with business interests near 920 Dougherty Road expressed worries about the potential development both in person Tuesday night and in writing prior.
"I believe that it is NOT in the best interest for business on Whiskey Road for this annexation & concept to be approved," reads a letter signed by Marsha Hopkins of Aiken Motorcycle Sales & Service.
The plans for the housing complex now proceed to City Council, the body that has the ultimate say in the matter.
City Council often makes decisions that are in line with the Planning Commission's suggestions – that's not a hard-and-fast rule, however.