Rezoning requests lead to speculation for property on Hwy. 81

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The owners of not one, but two, separate tracts of land on or near Hwy. 81 North are seeking zoning changes; reportedly one or both properties is slated for an assisted living facility.

Both tracts are very similar in size and nature, leading to speculation that perhaps one developer is hoping to choose one of the two sites. According to sources speaking on the condition of anonymity, The Journal has learned that both the Veterans Administration and The National Health Center may both be interested in one of the sites.

One site, located at the northeast corner of the four way intersection of Hwy. 81 and Crestview Road, comprises just over twenty acres, and is currently zoned as neighborhood commercial. The request, if approved, would change that zoning to commercial status.

The second site, also approximately 20 acres in size, is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Evergreen Road and Hwy. 81, approximately a mile south of the Bosch facility. G.M. Easterbrook LLC is seeking to have that site rezoned from industrial to commercial, with the possible intention of building a 120 bed facility. Each, or either, facility would probably create approximately 120 jobs.

The Legacy, an established assisted living facility, is located on Hwy. 81 North between the two proposed locations. Such facilities are filling up as the county’s population continues to age.

Despite reports that nursing homes are the proposed use for the land, the facilities are likely to be developed as assisted living facilities. The main difference, aside from the level of care provided, is the level of regulation by DHEC. For example, a nursing home requires the issuing of a certificate of need (CON) and would be subject to significantly more oversight by government agencies. Certificates of need are prized in the nursing home industry and two are perhaps less likely to be issued for facilities in such close proximity.

District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson has expressed her support for the rezoning but has also expressed concern that if the sites were rezoned and the proposed facilities were not built for some reason, that other less desirable uses of the land might result.

County Planning Director Bill West addressed those concerns by saying that the recommended C-2 commercial designation would allow more restrictions on the land’s use if the planned facilities did not result.

Three readings are necessary for approval of the rezoning requests.