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Forest Acres residents, City Officials oppose Richland County's proposed zoning changes

“We feel that this could be extremely detrimental to the community and negatively impact property values."

FOREST ACRES, S.C. —  

Forest Acres is asking the Richland County Planning and Zoning Commission to reconsider its zoning changes that could change the makeup of some of its neighborhoods. 

Richland County's new land development code (LDC) was adopted in November 2021. The code was designed to designate land as Richland County continues to grow. The last update to the code was in 2005. The LDC will require that every property in unincorporated Richland County receive new zoning that falls under the newly adopted code. 

Allie King lives in one of Forest Acres' so-called "Donut Holes" or unincorporated areas in city limits that fall under the jurisdiction of Richland County. 

“It’s confusing what’s forest acres what’s not, what’s city, what’s Richland County,” said King.

Under Richland County's proposed zoning map, these areas would be rezoned to allow for higher-density housing like duplexes or triplexes. King worries this would change the character of her neighborhood. 

“What I love about this neighborhood are the lot sizes, it’s about three-quarters of an acre," said King 

In a letter to the Richland County Planning and Zoning Commission this week, Forest Acres Mayor Frank Brunson wrote, “We feel that this could be extremely detrimental to the community and negatively impact property values,”

RELATED: Richland County shares new zoning maps with residents

City Councilman Tom Andrews said numerous residents have sent complaints about the proposed changes. 

"What might work in the Northeast or other parts of Colombia or Richland County don't necessarily work best for Forest Acres," said Andrews. 

In response to these concerns, the Planning Commission is amending the zoning designation which they said is “most equivalent to the current housing density."

In a statement to News19, Richland County’s Zoning Administrator Geonard Price said in part:

"The staff of the Richland County Planning Division has received a number of calls and emails concerning the proposed zoning designation for parcels contiguous or adjacent to the municipal area of the Town of Forest Acres."

Andrews said he appreciates the response, but he along with other city officials wants the zoning to remain for single-family houses. 

RELATED: Resident concerned over zoning changes in Richland County

Andrews said that, from the city's perspective, "more density means more people and that means more of a strain on our schools, roads, and other government resources."

Forest Acres Administrator Shaun Greenwood sent a statement to News19 on the city’s efforts to allow more affordable housing, saying: 

“Over the past six months, we’ve been working with a zoning consultant to overhaul the city of forest acres zoning ordinances and land development regulations. Specifically, council has asked the consultant to propose options for greater flexibility in single-family housing.

This would allow for a greater variety of single-family options on smaller lots. This would transition the current zoning code requirement that mandates a larger lot for a single residence. Part of the equation we are currently examining is how to meet this need of affordable housing without changing the character of our neighborhoods.”

The Planning Commission said residents can ask questions and voice concerns on the remapping process at its meeting on April 4 or the poning public hearing on April 26. 

The new map is expected to go into effect May 2 pending county council approval. 

The county is holding several drop-in sessions for residents to ask questions about the zoning changes. 

Times and locations for these meetings include:

  • Adult Activity Center (Parklane) - Banquet & Dining Hall -- Monday, March 21, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Gadsden Park Community Center - Banquet Hall --Tuesday, March 22, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • North Springs Park Community Center - Banquet Hall --Thursday, March 24, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Pine Grove Community Center - Banquet Hall -- Monday, March 28, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Ballentine Community Center - Banquet Hall -- Tuesday, March 29, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

RELATED: Richland County zoning map redrawing delayed one month for resident input

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