Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Parkersville residents won the first round of a fight to keep horses out of their neighborhood, but the proposal now goes before Georgetown County Council.
The county Planning Commission voted 3-1 not to recommend a request by the McCoy family to rezone two lots on Petigru Drive in Pawleys Island so they can build a house and a barn to keep three horses.
More than 50 Parkersville residents filled one half of County Council’s chambers for the commission meeting last week.
Norman Reid said residents are sick of “nasty, dirty, smelly, unsightly operations” being put in African American neighborhoods. He cited a dog kennel, a recycling center, and a Santee Cooper high voltage switching station.
“Enough is enough,” he said, adding that residents were “appalled” by some of the zoning changes approved for the Parkersville area over the years.
Steven Robertson called Parkersville “a historically black hamlet” that is “under siege.”
“Money matters,” he said. “We mean nothing to Georgetown County.”
“You have folks in this community that are in their golden age,” said John Burgess, adding that neighbors do not want put up with horses, cows, goats, snakes and buffaloes.
Other residents expressed worries about the smell of the horses, and the flies and mosquitoes they would attract. Several said they would welcome single-family homes or an apartment complex instead.
The McCoys did not speak at the meeting, but their lawyer, Bob Moran, decried rumors that the family planned to run a horse breeding operation on the property.
“This is not a farm, this is not a ranch,” Moran said. “They want what everybody in this room does. They want to live in Pawleys Island and raise their family in Pawleys Island.”
Moran said as a condition of the rezoning, the McCoys would stipulate that they would not keep any other farm animals on the property.
Commission member Glenda Shoulette, a resident of Litchfield Country Club near Stables Park, talked about when that property was rezoned several years ago so a family could keep three horses there. She said the horses never got loose and she didn’t notice an increase in mosquitoes or flies.
“They were excellent neighbors,” she said.
Shoulette called the proposal “down zoning and a plus for the neighborhood.”
Members of audience jeered her remarks, leading commission chairman Brian Henry to chide them.
Commission member Marvin Neal said he went out to Parkersville and talked to a few of the residents.
“I would invite a horse to be in my backyard. I love horses,” he said. “Whether I like it or not, it’s their community.”
Commission member Norma Guest was worried about putting the needs of one family over the needs of 20 or 30 families.
“They shouldn’t be forced to accept those horses if they’re against it,” Guest said. “I just feel like those in that area need to be happy.”
Henry didn’t think the government should step in and tell someone what they can and can’t do with their property, but also wondered if a black family wanted to put a horse farm there if the opposition would be the same.
After nearly 90 minutes of discussion, Henry, Neal and Guest voted not to recommend the rezoning. Shoulette voted yes.
The outcome brought cheers from the Parkersville residents, and a warning from Henry.
“We don’t decide anything here,” he said. “We make a recommendation to County Council. … “You have an uphill battle.”
In other business:
A proposal to start developing the South Causeway Planned Development was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission.
The anchor for the 18-acre site, which is owned by First South Bank, is expected to be a Lowes Foods, according to Boyd Johnson, the county’s planning director.
The first buildings to be constructed will not exceed 47,000 square feet, and are required to be 20 feet apart.
The main access is planned for U.S. Highway 17 across from Tyson Drive. There will also be a right-turn only access on Highway 17, as well as an access on South Causeway.
Johnson said the state Department of Transportation will not approve a traffic light on Highway 17 at Tyson Drive because it is so close to the light at the South Causeway.
Much of the discussion about the project centered around buffers.
Steve Annese from Earthworks, which is designing the development, said there will be a 25-foot buffer around the whole property, plus a 10-foot tall masonry wall and a vegetative buffer in the back to mitigate the sounds of trucks loading and unloading.
Ralph Seran, who lives behind the property, expressed concerns about people using his yard as a short-cut.
“We need some sort of a barrier,” Seran said.
Annese said Earthworks would be willing to put a wood fence up in back.
In 2003, Lowe’s Home Improvement wanted to put a big-box store on the site. That plan sparked the “Don’t Box the Neck” movement, which squashed that project, and a planned 119,500-square-foot Walmart in Pawleys Plaza last year.
The plan now goes to County Council for final approval.
Commission members Brian Henry, Marvin Neal, Norma Guest and Glenda Shoulette were in attendance at the meeting.
By Chris Sokoloski
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