By Stan Welch
More than a hundred fifty residents and concerned citizens attended a meeting of the Anderson County Planning Commission Tuesday night. They were there primarily to oppose two proposed housing developments in the Powdersville area.
The largest of the two proposed projects is known as Chimney Hill and would be constructed in three phases. The first phase would be ninety nine lots, followed by two other additional phases of seventy two and thirty five lots. The type of construction would be townhomes. According to county planning staff officials, four hundred eighteen parking spaces would be required.
The tract, which comprises twenty nine acres, was assembled from eight parcels of land. The location, in the immediate vicinity of the three Powdersville schools, will further exacerbate a bad traffic situation. Once completed, county staff estimates that an additional sixteen hundred forty eight trips a day will be added to the current traffic flow. Several of the residents who spoke before the commission emphasized that the traffic during the hours when students are arriving at and departing from the schools is far more intense than during the rest of the day.
Lisa Tesner asked if a traffic study was even done in regards to the projects.She also expressed concern that the area’s elderly weren’t being considered. “I have aunts and other relatives who live in that area who are in their seventies and eighties, and who still drive. This will make getting around even more difficult for them. I understand the idea of progress but this doesn’t seem very well thought out.”
Another resident stated that during the school rush, it can take twenty five minutes to travel three miles. Other residents, such as Sharon Cash, raised concerns about emergency services, such as fire and EMS, while another told the commission that those services, as well as police, should be the second half of the plan, and not just where to put the houses.
Bobby James spoke about the huge insurgence of school age children, saying that the projects, along with others planned for the general area, will create an additional one thousand residences in the Powdersville area. “The rest of the county is expected to see a hundred fifty new homes altogether. Is the school district ready for this influx of students? Because not one parent in this room wants to see classrooms with thirty five students in them.”
District One school superintendent David Havird was in attendance Tuesday night, but did not speak. Commission chairman David Cothran extended the commission’s customary ten minute period for public comments twice to allow those who wanted to speak the opportunity. He also chided the mostly orderly crowd more than once, explaining that the commissioners would not engage in a question and answer give and take.
“We are here to listen to your concerns, but we will not answer specific questions, or engage in a debate.” He later asked the crowd to refrain from laughter and clapping and audible comments. “We understand your passion, but it is incredibly rude to interrupt the staff while they are giving reports. While I certainly don’t intend to, it is within my authority to clear the chambers.”
One of the commission members moved to table the Chimney Hill vote for preliminary approval of the project until the traffic issue can be more fully studied. That motion was unanimously approved. The second project, known as Yorkshire Farms, despite the planning staff’s recommendation of approval, failed to even receive a motion to approve either a variance that was requested, or the approval of the project itself. As a result, the project was rejected, although the developer can modify the proposal and resubmit it.
A third project, Palmetto Crossing, consisting of 14.8 acres, with twenty one lots, just outside West Pelzer, was unanimously given preliminary approval.