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Camden delays 2 rezonings for more info

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

CAMDEN — Camden County officials want answers to safety and environmental questions before considering a request to rezone a tract on U.S. Highway 17 to the newly created Village Residential designation.

Keeter Barn LLC is requesting a rezoning of 42 acres along U.S. 17 just north of South Mills that is accessed from Keeter Barn Road from Highway Commercial zoning to Village Residential zoning.

The Camden Board of Commissioners voted unanimously June 3 to schedule consideration of the rezoning petition at commissioners’ next meeting.

The Village Residential zoning district, which was added when county commissioners adopted a revised Unified Development Ordinance earlier this year, is a mixed-use district that allows for higher-density residential development and also some commercial uses.

Dan Porter, Camden director of planning and community development, said during the public hearing on the rezoning request that the land has been for sale since 2004. That prompted the developer's request to get the property rezoned to Village Residential, he said.

The planning staff and Camden Planning Board have recommended the rezoning be approved, Porter said.

But Chief Tommy Banks of the South Mills Volunteer Fire Department noted the fire station property is located next to the 42-acre site and includes a helipad that is used by the Nightingale medical helicopter and occasionally by U.S. Coast Guard helicopters.

Banks expressed concern about Nightingale and other helicopters being able to continue approaching and landing at the pad.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom White said he shares the concern about the helicopter pad. Some kind of buffer around the pad is needed in order to address those concerns, he said.

Commissioner Ross Munro noted that McPherson Creek flows through the Bunker Hill area and is prone to severe flooding. Draining additional water into the creek could be expected to make flooding even worse, he said.

Munro said there are hard questions about the helipad approach and buffer and about drainage from the property into McPherson Creek that need to be answered before the rezoning request is approved.

Porter said concerns about a buffer zone around the helipad and how to handle stormwater runoff would be addressed when the developer submits a subdivision plan for the project. Those kinds of concerns would exist with any development, whether under the current zoning or the proposed rezoning, Porter said.

Commissioner Garry Meiggs said he agreed that the issues involving the helicopter approach and drainage would come up at the development stage rather than in the decision about rezoning.

Banks said the fire department’s main concern is the buffer zone around the helicopter pad. As long as the buffer zone is addressed before the property is developed that should satisfy the department’s concerns, he said.

Nevertheless, the board opted not to consider the rezoning petition but to schedule it for consideration at its July meeting.

The board also held a public hearing on a proposed development plan for Sleepy Hollow Estates Phase II. That matter, too, was scheduled for consideration at the July meeting in light of questions about the proposal.

At the public hearing on the Sleepy Hollow Estates plan two neighboring property owners, Aaron Pippen and Wanda Daniels, expressed concerns about a number of issues, including road construction within the subdivision and whether there would be any effect on the use of their own property.

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