CHAPIN, S.C. — A senior living facility is petitioning to close two roads in the Chapin community in order to improve the safety of their residents. Community members think it will do the opposite for surrounding residents.
Lutheran Homes of SC is a a faith-based ministry serving senior citizens across the state. The Heritage at Lowman community is a continuing care facility servicing older adults in the Midlands community.
The large property is home to many homes and buildings all a part of the Heritage at Lowman. Around this facility are other outside neighborhoods like the Osprey and Lakeport subdivisions.
Chris Slaughter, president of the Osprey Homeowner's Association contacted News19 concerning a potential impact to their community. The Heritage at Lowman announced plans to petition to take ownership of two roads in the area.
In a statement from Denise Dickinsen, Vice President, Planned Growth & Development for Lutheran Homes of SC, they elaborate on their intent: "Lutheran Homes of South Carolina, doing business as the Heritage at Lowman, is petitioning to request that the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) transfer ownership and maintenance responsibility of Lowman Home Barn Road and Reformation Road to Lutheran Homes of South Carolina, doing business as the Heritage at Lowman."
Residents of nearby neighborhoods like Chris Slaughter don't agree with this idea,"We have people that need to use these roads to get to and from work, to and from school. You know, 16-year-old drivers that are brand new to driving should not have to turn down Johnson Marina Rd. just to get to Spring Hill High School everyday, I mean that’s dangerous," Slaughter continues, "I don’t like to turn down Johnson Marina Rd. to get to that area at all and I think closing these roads is going to be a huge detriment to our community.”
The Heritage at Lowman's main reason for these changes is safety. They say in their statement, in part, "The Heritage at Lowman senior residents and families continually report their fear and need for continued safety and mobility as they drive cars and golf carts and walk along Lowman Home Barn Road and Reformation Road. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to stay agile and mobile as they age. To help address the challenges of the need for independence with decreased mobility and aging confronted by senior residents, the Heritage at Lowman community is looking at safety concerns to improve the Lowman Home Barn Road and driving environment to better accommodate older car and golf cart drivers and pedestrians."
“Twice now, in the last two months, when we drive our golf cart up here to go to lunch or to exercise or what have you, we have been passed by a car going fast on a double line," Sue Johnson, over five year resident of the Heritage at Lowman told News19.
Johnson was even part of the movement to put speed humps on the road to slow drivers down, “It has slowed them somewhat but it hasn’t slowed the traffic. And when you have to wait as long as long as you have to wait to get your mail, or come out and cross the street to see a neighbor, its gotten to be too much.”
Neighbors who live in the area that are not a part of the senior living disagree. And that is the over all issue- community members say they use these roads as a safer course rather than Dutch Fork Rd. or Johnson Marina Rd. that tend to have heavy traffic. While the residents of Heritage at Lowman say this through traffic is causing more safety issues for them.
“Its closing down the safest way we have to travel to Chapin," says neighbor Sheri Hood who started an online petition to this road closure that has over 2,000 signatures, "I love the people at Lowman- my dad lives here and he walks his 10,000 steps around these roads every single day and never has a problem, never has felt threatened.”
“We want to see a state road that’s been a state road forever stay open,” says another neighbor Lou Urschel, "we’re concerned about the safety of those of us that would normally use the road that will be put at greater risk if we have to go out on Dutch Fork Rd.”
The Heritage at Lowman plans on submitting the petition to shut down the roads and stands by their need for safety.
“We would like to see our neighbors think about our age and how we want to live a safe life and a pleasant life and if we constantly have to worry about traffic," Johnson says its not that pleasant or safe.”
News19 will continue to follow this situation.