A representative of the engineering firm working on a proposed major apartment complex in Graniteville withdrew the request for a variance and a site plan after members of the Aiken County Planning Commission raised concerns Thursday night.
Information submitted to the county’s Planning and Development Department included a name for the development, The Palisades at Aiken.
There were questions and comments from the Planning Commission about that choice because the apartments wouldn’t be in Aiken and there was a possibility that it could create confusion.
Austin Allen of Arbor Engineering in Greenville told the panel, which met at the Aiken County Government Center, that the name had not been finalized.
A much bigger issue for the Planning Commission, however, was Allen’s request for a variance so that Climbing Rose Boulevard could be used as a secondary access to The Palisades.
The Palisades’ main entrance would be off Jefferson Davis Highway.
Climbing Rose currently provides access from Jefferson Davis to The Summits apartments and Aiken Urgent Care.
When the Planning Commission asked him about that strategy, Allen told the panel that he hadn’t sought permission yet from the property owner for future residents of The Palisades to use Climbing Rose.
“My concern is that you’re asking this commission to make a lot of assumptions as to what another person may do when you haven’t even approached that person,” said Planning Commission Chairman Dennis Gmerek.
Allen asked if there “could be any thought to that (permission from the property owner) being a condition (of approval)," but received no response from the Planning Commission.
Gmerek, instead, warned Allen that “when we make motions, it will be too late for you to withdraw.”
Allen also asked if both the variance and site plan needed to be withdrawn or if they could be considered as two separate issues.
County Planning and Development Director Joel Duke then said: “The applicant has asked the commission to take one of the actions they have at their disposal. They can continue this discussion at a later date and essentially hold this item until another meeting. If they were to do that, I’m sure that they would ask you (Allen) for more information. They certainly can vote to approve it with conditions or they can vote it down. Those are their options.”
After hearing Duke’s remarks, Allen said, “If those (the variance and the site plan) would be tied together, then I would ask the Planning Commission if we could get some time to allow my client to reach out for any legal documentation with this variance.”
Gmerek’s response was to make the following statement: “Just so we’re clear, you’re withdrawing presentation one and two (the variance request and the site plan).”
“Yes sir,” Allen replied.
Duke told the Aiken Standard after the meeting that the county considers Climbing Rose to be a private driveway, not a road.
“There is a limitation in the County Code (of Ordinances) on a private driveway,” he said.
Such a driveway, Duke explained, can only provide access for two lots, hence the need for a variance.
In addition, the County considers the proposed construction project for The Palisades as a “major land development,” so the site plan must meet certain requirements involving access, traffic flow, site improvements and offsite impacts.
Included in The Palisades’ site plan are 270 apartments, a clubhouse space and six parking garages.
According to information provided by Arbor Engineering, Triangle Real Estate of Gastonia, North Carolina, owns the 19.09-acre property where The Palisades would be located.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously approved two preliminary plat requests for subdivisions.
One was for a patio home subdivision called Jackson Landing on Old Jackson Highway near Beech Island. Also in the area are Sheraton Road, Atomic Road and Pooh Lane.
There will be 21 lots on the 7.93-acre parcel.
The applicant was Mixon Construction near Beech Island and North Augusta. The engineer is Southern Partners Inc. of Augusta.
The other preliminary plat approval request was for the Gregg’s Mill Section Four C subdivision on Grayson Drive in Graniteville.
Beazley Development Company Inc. of Evans, Georgia, was the applicant.
The engineer is Southern Partners.
There will be 31 lots on 9.64 acres.