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Resident concerned over zoning changes in Richland County

The new zoning map will head to county council for first reading on March 22. The new map is expected to go into effect on May 2.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Richland County resident Kristen Porter was shocked to receive a letter from the county saying her rural neighborhood (RU) would be re-zoned as residential (RT). 

"They didn't go into any detail about how much housing is allowed on an acre of land, what is allowed as far as businesses," Porter said. "You have to go into the LDC to look that up." 

The county started sending letters to residents last week, informing them of the new zoning changes. 

RELATED: Richland County residents can see how their property will be rezoned at public meetings

Richland County's new land development code (LDC) was adopted in November. The code was designed to designate land like Porter's as Richland County Continues to grow. The last update to the code was in 2005.

The 500 page document outlines the switch to density-based zoning. According to the plan, the biggest change is the "deletion of the RU district, which covers a significant portion of land within the County." 

In Porter's case, zoning the land as residential doesn't have immediate impacts, but opens the door for housing to be built there if nearby land is sold. 

The biggest changes would happen to those zoned under mixed use, which would allow for retail, offices, housing, and more to be developed. 

The county has held 15 public information meetings about the land code this year, but Porter said she feels residents in rural areas are left in the dark. 

Porter said if the county can send a letter about the new zones out, "they can send out a sheet of paper with a schedule on it for all the meetings.” She'd like to see more outreach to the elderly and those who are disabled.

RELATED: Richland County shares new zoning maps with residents

Richland County Administrator Leonardo Brown said he's heard feedback on the letters and his office is working to address it.

"We do plan on having additional opportunities to share with residents what the changes may mean, or may not mean to their specific situation,” said Brown. 

Brown said the county will announce these additional meetings in the coming days. He said if residents can't attend meetings, he encourages them to contact the Planning and Zoning staff with any questions or concerns. 

They can be reached by email at LandDevelopmentCode@richlandcountysc.gov or by phone 803-576-2190. 

Brown said the Land Development Code is "to protect the investment of residents." 

RELATED: Residents fed up with illegal dumping in Richland County

"We really are trying to make sure we bring everything up-to-date to put more protections in place for our residents," said Brown.

The map will head to county council for first reading on March 22. The new map is expected to go into effect on May 2.

Five more meetings will take place before the map is presented to the planning commission on March 7. 

One of the meetings is on February 22 at the Pine Grove Community Center on Piney Woods Road in Columbia from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

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