Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The Columbia City Council will continue to have conversations over whether Dreher High School can construct new athletic facilities.
The high school wants to build five tennis courts and a competition field, but the school's zoning classification doesn't allow them to build on the property. The property is currently a planned unit development, but the city will consider re-zoning it to residential.
The Council chambers was at full capacity Tuesday night, as proponents and opponents spoke about the proposal. Proponents, including students, said athletics and academics go hand-and-hand. One student-athlete, who will not benefit from the proposal, said having sports facilities off-campus is very inconvenient. As a tennis player, she said she would travel 15 minutes to get to their "home court".
Opponents said while they fully support Dreher High School, they don't support the proposed athletics facility. They said there will be light pollution and an increase in noise and traffic. New homeowners also spoke out, saying if they had known about the proposal before purchasing their home, they wouldn't have moved there. One man said if the proposal moves forward, he would consider putting his house on the market.
Back in 2003, there was an agreement with neighboring communities when the new Dreher High School was built. The school was to keep competition fields off of the property to prevent traffic, noise and lights. They also agree to a separation between the school and neighborhoods.
The city's Planning Commission has recommended denial for the project twice in the last six months, but it's up to the Council as to whether or not the property can be rezoned.
Mayor Steve Benjamin said there needs to be more conversation about the issue. He said he wants the Council to make the right long-term decision.
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