The outcry came as the council considered a zoning change from Fringe Agricultural to General Commercial at a nine-acre site near the intersection of Farming Creek Road and Dreher Shoals Road.
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The message delivered by an impassioned group of citizens at Irmo Town Council’s May 17 meeting was clear: Irmo is already a traffic nightmare and shouldn’t undertake any new development that could make things worse.
The citizens showed up in opposition to a zoning change council was considering that would clear the way for new businesses.
“It will open up a Pandora’s box,” said Irmo resident Greg Zimmerman. “People are going to hate it.”
“Keep the neighborhood as it is now,” said Chuck Wilcox, another Irmo resident.
The outcry came as the council considered a zoning change from Fringe Agricultural to General Commercial at a nine-acre site near the intersection of Farming Creek Road and Dreher Shoals Road (S.C. Highway 6).
The change wouldn’t bring new housing projects, but it would accommodate a proposed commercial site that would be used for a storage business. Storage bins would be made available at the site for businesses and residents of the area. The site would also have some limited retail development.
Neighbors say Irmo doesn’t have the infrastructure to support more development.
Residents of the nearby Wynhurst residential area say it could pose major safety problems because of narrow roads and backed up traffic.
Several residents complained about constant traffic problems that already plague the Irmo area, particularly along Highway 6 between Irmo and Chapin.
“We can’t even get out of our neighborhood,” one resident said.
The council will face a backlash if the change is approved, another resident said.
“You will have a fight on your hands.”
The Irmo Planning Commission recommended approval of the zoning change, but council members appeared to be swayed by the complaints. The zoning change was voted down by a 4 to 1 vote.
Only Mayor Barry Walker Sr. voted in favor of making the change.
Walker pointed out that Irmo doesn’t impose millage on residents, thanks to the income received from businesses licenses fees. To continue in that mode, Walker said the town needs to keep bringing more businesses into the town.
But Councilman Bill Danielson said the proposed zoning change will have too much impact.
“We need some kind of buffer,” he said.
Danielson said the town needs to look to the future as development challenges continue.
“We need a solid vision,” he said.
After the meeting, the contractor for the site, Brannon Graybill, said he hasn’t given up on the project.
He said he could make changes to make the site more acceptable and bring it back to the council.
As developers continue to seek new residential projects in the popular Irmo area, council members find themselves in a difficult situation.
It was pointed out during the meeting that the town doesn’t have control over traffic problems, which have to be addressed by the state Department of Transportation or by county government officials.
The council is now considering a new comprehensive zoning plan to deal with the conflicts.
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