The December Business Meeting had two items referred to Council from the Planning Commission. One was a 2nd reading for an annexation of property along Neely Ferry and S. Baldwin Roads. The annexation request asks for the property to be zoned Residential–High Density, and the applicant wants to build 64 townhomes on the property. I expressed concern regarding traffic and other impacts related to this rezoning, especially given a plan to develop another Residential–High Density apartment complex directly across the street. Mr. Gooch expressed similar concerns. Mr. Graham moved to table the discussion to allow more time for the applicant and staff to work on this project. That motion passed 4-2, with Mr. Gooch and I voting no (Ms. Braswell was absent). I voted no because I don’t think there’s anything that would change my mind regarding this development if brought back to Council in January. Nothing changed between the November reading and the December reading, after all.
The second item referred from the Planning Commission was to make a major change to the plan for the other development on Neely Ferry (now called Waterleaf). This is right behind Food Lion. This land was annexed into the city back in 2006. At that time, Council approved a plan for a mixed use development. That means it would include retail and office space in addition to some multi-family housing. The project was never developed. Now the developer would like this Council to agree to a Major Change that would make this development all Residential–High Density and include up to 410 units. Again, that’s a lot of activity in that area, in my opinion. In addition, our Comprehensive Plan identifies this area as “Village Activity Center.” That means the City plans for it to be mixed use. Yet, the developer, City staff, and the Planning Commission asked us to approve this change. If you know me, you know I have been pushing for better long-term planning in Simpsonville. In this case, we had a plan, and we were being asked to ignore it. I simply could not support this. Neither could the rest of Council. This project was voted down.