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Orangeburg County Council is moving ahead with the rezoning of property near Orangeburg, although the change is meeting with some opposition.

Council last week unanimously gave first reading to rezoning about .18 acres of property on State Court to commercial general for an auto sales business.

The vote reversed a 5-1 vote made by the Orangeburg County Planning Commission.

According to the zoning department review, the “proposed request would be considered spot zoning based on the size of the property.”

The South Carolina Supreme Court defines “spot zoning” as “a process of singling out a small parcel of land for a use classification totally different from the surrounding area, for the benefit of the owners of such property and to the detriment of other owners.”

The zoning department, in its review, did note the rezoning request is being made for an area that supports residential and commercial growth and that the proposed use would provide a commercial service in the area.

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The property, which is undeveloped and vacant, is currently zoned residential general. It’s located off of Magnolia Street near Koyo. There is a mixture of residential and commercial uses within the vicinity of the proposed site.

Ten people expressed their opposition to the request both in-person and in writing.

Priscilla Robinson of Robinson Rentals expressed concerns that the plans would harm Auto Solutions’ property. She’s the business advisor to the newly opened Auto Solutions of Orangeburg at 2940 St. Matthews Road.

“This lot is connected to the back of my property line and there was and is a drainage problem that needs to be addressed that will have a detrimental impact on my property, causing excessive drainage, run off and erosion,” Robinson wrote in an email to the Orangeburg County Planning Department.

“Because this lot is only 0.18 of an acre, I know this close proximity to my property will have a negative impact on my business ergonomics, as well as an adverse effect on my daily business operations and appearance of the property,” she said.

Regarding the drainage, Robinson wrote, “I had to bring in tons of dirt, rocks, cement and drainage pipes to address the water runoff problem, and I know that the rezoning of this property will cause me additional problems and money.”

Property owner Kevin Reid said he has made improvements and plans to continue to improve State Court.

For example, he said a house that was once used for drugs now has a family living in it.

“With the proper landscaping and all the work that I did over on State Court, it would not cause that problem (flooding) were I to bring my business there,” Reid said.

“If I were to establish a business in that area, it would make that area much more suitable for a business,” he said.

Councilwoman Janie Cooper-Smith said she’s OK with the rezoning. The property is in her council district.

Cooper-Smith said she has read the reports of the Planning Commission and has visited the property.

“I am not an engineer so I don’t know what impact this would have on erosion,” Cooper-Smith said.

She said since Auto Solutions does sell cars, the zoning request would be in line with what is already going on in the area.

Cooper-Smith acknowledged all the work Robinson has done to the property.

“But if it were not rezoned from residential to commercial, he could build a house there and he would still have to clear the land,” Cooper-Smith said. “Erosion would still exist.”

“Small businesses are the backbones” of rural areas, Cooper-Smith said.

“Businesses can come and go but small businesses are here,” she said. “We need small businesses and these small businesses will help our economy because they employ people within our county.”

“Here is another business – not only a small business, but a Black business,” Cooper-Smith said. “I am for having him to rezone his property from residential to commercial.”

Cooper-Smith said Reid’s business could be an asset to Auto Solutions because those cars he sells could use it for repair.

“Let’s face it: We need Black businesses and we need some more businesses,” Cooper-Smith said.

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