By Al Dozier
Despite several citizen complaints, the Irmo Town Council Tuesday approved a rezoning of properties in the Salem Church Road area that could bring as many as 200 new homes.
The rezoning would change an area now designated for Fringe Agriculture and General Commercial to Planned Development District. The change, which has been approved by the town’s zoning board, has been requested so a developer could build new homes along both sides of Salem Church Road.
But area residents said it would create a traffic nightmare for an area already plagued by problems.
“I just don’t see how we can take much more,” said Scott Butler, a resident of Salem Church Road.
Residents say the problem is particularly bad during the high-traffic morning and evening hours.
A representative of developer AJ Holdings said the community could expect single-family homes, 1,600 to 3,000-square-feet. None would be low-income housing, and the area would not include patio homes.
Irmo Mayor Hardy King said the council should be receptive to growth that will ultimately increase property value.
“If our town is not growing, it’s dying,” King said.
He said the planned development district for residential housing is better than the current zoning for commercial projects that could create worse problems for the neighborhood.
King said there’s little the town can do about the traffic congestion.
“It’s a DOT (Department of Transportation) problem,” he said
Councilman Barry Walker said the town should look favorably on bringing more people into the town.’
But Councilman Mark Pouliot disagreed.
He said allowing such a development before road problems are addressed is premature.
Pouliot pointed out that the long-awaited widening of Broad River Road, considered a major fix for traffic problems in the area, is still years away.
Pouliot cast the only vote against the rezoning.
In other action, Councilwoman Kathy Condon warned the town faces a major problem with drainage issues on Country Square Drive near the Harbison Boulevard intersection. The problem apparently resulted from the removal of several trees during a redevelopment in the area.
Today, the area is surrounded by “red clay,” she said.
“Nobody is taking responsibility.”
The council heard a “State of the Court” report from Municipal Judge Joseph Epting, who gave a favorable report on the Irmo court facilities that have been used by his office during the past 20 years. He also praised the work of the Irmo Police Department.
Epting did warn the council that crime is on the increase in Irmo, as it is in adjacent municipalities.
The council gave final reading approval to new guidelines for food trucks that would require them to get permits to park during special events. Final approval was also given to a measure that redefines Recreational Vehicles to include motor homes.
The council also approved several measures designed to upgrade various rules of order governing council meetings. The council also continued to clarify new restrictions on dilapidated structures.
The council approved a $12,500 technical assistance grant to the Midlands Council of Government, and agreed to a mutual aid agreement on a Joint Multi-jurisdictional Task Force on Criminal Narcotics with Lexington County.