Residential and retail development plan provides direction for future growth in Williamston

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During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council heard an economic and development plan presentation from R. E. D. City Planning, approved second reading on a property development agreement with Scout Development, LLC. Council also adopted flood prevention regulations and approved the sale of property on Parker St.

Adam Chandler of R. E. D. City Planning presented information on a Retail and Residential Development Action Plan he has been working on for about a year.
The project was funded in part by an Appalachian Regional Commission grant and done in conjunction with the town and Envision Williamston.
Chandler said the study was unique because it covers economic development for both retail and residential. “The city of Williamston is trailblazing when it comes to this type program,” he said.
“A lack of new home development has hindered almost all other aspects of growth for the town,” Chandler told the Council.
He said the main reason the town has not attracted a grocery store is “Not enough people.”
But he added that his view on that has changed by seeing the growth currently underway inside and outside of the town.
“It has grown wildly in the last few months,” he said. According to Chandler, the town could easily have 110 more people in the next year, and as many as 400-500 in the next four years.
He said the town could see another 3000 to 4000 people within a three mile radius over the next four years.
“The town needs to make sure that the goal and aim is to make Williamston the focal point,” he said. “The area will see new restaurants,” but he warned, “the town can’t withstand a restaurant opening and closing within a year.
It will have to have the full support of Williamston.”
He referenced the announcement of Raines on Main coming to Williamston, adding they will benefit from being the first ones here to serve alcohol. He said he expects to see another bar/restaurant to locate in Williamston within a year.

Chandler said there is not much prime usable retail space in the town. “Most of the property is not up to code, that is a problem.”
He also pointed out that the town is not currently prepared for retail or residential growth.
“We are having to figure it out as we go,” he said.
Chandler recommended the town have codified uses for zoned areas. “Open ended zoning leaves a lot of room for a developer and deals to go away,” he said. “There is more at stake than just the development.”
Although a grocery store is high on the want list, he said the lack of a grocery store is more psychological than a real issue. “Though it does legitimize a place,” he said. “Not having one doesn’t mean the town can’t grow. I don’t think it will take that long (for one to come).”

Drawing on the town’s 2017 Community Master Plan, Chandler also recommended moving the Lander Library to the downtown area, improving the Greenville Drive streetscape corridor.

He said there are several other recommendations in the Community Master Plan that Chandler said the town could act on sooner than later.

In his presentation, Chandler said the town should create an area special and unique to Williamston and the area as a whole.
He identified Mineral Spring Park as a focal point for the town and made recommendations for improving it.
“The park needs serious attention and money.” He made several recommendations including removing the tennis courts to allow for more parking, changing the roadway to the back of the property and closing the McDonalds exit.
He said there needs to be work on the basketball courts “to bring it where it needs to be.”
He recommended removing the amphitheater to make room for food truck parking and make the buildings/structures in the park more consistent. “Pipes over the creek detract from what the park could be,” he said.
He recommended the town move forward on the Mustang Alley plan for Mineral Park Lane (Center Street).

A major recommendation in the plan is an expanded walking and biking trail.
“The value to the community, as an open air space, is huge.”
He recommended relocating the park amphitheater to an area near the old water plant which he said “is a natural amphitheater.”
A brewery/restaurant proposal recently presented to the town “could be a game changer if it happens. It literally will change Williamston overnight.”
Chandler said he is “cautiously optimistic that it will happen.”
He said the biking community that could use the trails brings money to spend.
He said that the expanded Mineral Spring trail could tie into a network of trails, like the internet, and it would be a big part of moving to the next stage.
On the residential side, a Minor Street Development would provide the town with a residential area with foot traffic to Main Street.
He said the town responsibility would be how it looks and amenities. “The city should have a lot more say in it. It is very different than the Mahaffey Rd. project.”
It should include sidewalks and streetscape, higher standards and architecture design, “to create a look a feel for the town and the area.”

“People can come here and pay 25 percent less for housing than they would in Greenville or Powdersville.
The project could allow for 150 to 200 new homes with or without the brewery, he said.

A retail component would have less residential and add retail space and parking on Minor Street.
He said the town would need to update College street by widening and aligning with with Town Square Drive.

“Without the brewery, the other option would be much better. The city should keep the architectural and creative control. It should look good for a long time.”

There was also suggestion for a restaurant on Mill St. which with the Mustang Alleyway, which would tie the park area to Mill Street and back to Main Street.

“There is a real opportunity for something unique to happen which ties everything else back into Main St.”

The plan recommended a light industrial area on Williams Street. Chandler said there are several weird buildings in the area and he could see it as a Light Industrial District. “It has no identity right now and needs one. It exits, it needs to be something.”
One recommendation is to have a Craftsman Artisan Maker Shared Space Collective in the area.

“You guys are sitting in a very exciting time for Williamston,” he said. “The town has been waiting 50 years for things to happen, and now to be a part of it.”

The owners of Raines on Main, a new restaurant that is coming to Williamston, were introduced. Jamey Baldwin said the restaurant will have an upper class feel with middle class prices and expects to have an annual payroll of $250,000 to $270,000.

Members of the Anderson County Legislative Delegation presented a check for $5000 from SCPRT to the Town of Williamston. Delegation members included House Dist. 9 Representative Anne Thayer, Senator Mike Gambrell, Anderson County Council District 7 representative Cindy Wilson.

Council unanimously approved second reading on an agreement with Scout Development LLC. Under the agreement the town is making 32.74 acres available to the developer for a residential development. A site plan will have to be approved by the town planning commission and then town council for the project to move forward. Under the agreement, which gives the town property to the developer, any undeveloped property as of Oct. 1, 2023 will revert back to the town.
Chris Hill said his proposed development was similar to one done in Woodruff which had 20 sales in nine months. He said it eventually led to other development with 92 new homes and a DR Horton development with more than 100.
“If they see some success, more will follow and get closer. It will come. Our project will help jumpstart that,” he said.

Council also approved first reading on an ordinance adopting flood prevention regulations; an ordinance adopting a flood insurance study and an ordinance authorizing an Intergovernmental Agreement with Anderson County regarding flood prevention.
Council also approved a resolution approving the sale of town owned property at 600 Parker Street. The property was donated to the town years ago, but came with a mobile home on it that was not part of the property.
The situation, in which a longtime resident in the mobile home was still living there, was a dilemma for the town, for years. The property is being sold to Rickey D. Holcombe for $2,500 and includes an easement.
It was announced that the Christmas Parade will be held Dec. 12 at 3 p.m.

During citizen comments, John Roache requested property on Greenville Drive be removed from the town limits. The property was annexed into the town in 2012 with plans to have a Walmart store built on it, however the deal fell through and no development has happened.
Jan Washington asked for guidance on what type home can be placed on property she owns at Jehue and E. Caroline St..
Pamela Owens brought up trouble and traffic on Gray Drive and the possibility of having speed bumps placed there. She also raised questions about the proposed development on Mahaffey St.