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Richland County neighbors sign petition to stop zoning code changes

Residents met to sign a petition asking Richland County to stop moving forward with the new land development code.

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — Changes could be coming to some zoning codes in Richland County, but some residents in the Irmo area are asking the county council to reconsider.

"We don't need massive rezoning in Richland County," said resident Pam Sulkinghouse. 

She said she's frustrated with Richland County's new proposal for their 2022 Land Development Code. 

"We want to maintain current density levels, we're not against growth but we need responsible growth," she said.

Sulkinghouse and others who came out want the current zoning to remain in place. She has spent her whole life in the area and said she and others who came out to sign the petition are concerned about the possibility of high density." 

According to the county's website, the new land development code will provide a greater range of housing, align zoning districts with current best practices and "bring development standards into the 21st century." The code will also bring more apartments and duplexes into some areas. 

Richland County Councilman Bill Malinowski said the goal is not to force high density in the area.

"The staff is trying to put this code in where they feel it will work best for the property owners," he said. "They don't have anything against the people or the property they are not trying to create higher densities." 

He said it may look like higher density is being put in place in some areas but said that this is only because of the way the codes are currently read.

"Right now, some of the codes, if somebody wants to build a garage or an extra storage building on their property and it would have to be in the setbacks, or the property did not allow an additional building, they could not do it," Malinowski said. "So, while the property itself does not lend to building an additional house, the new zoning would allow them to build something additional in the sense of a building or an outbuilding or a garage which they can't do now without coming in and requesting a zoning change." 

There will be changes with the new zoning code, especially for people who live in Residential 3 if they are being moved to Residential 4. 

"R-3 on one acre would be six units, R4 on one acre would be nine units," Malinowski said. 

Malinowski says he has three motions he will present to the county council on April 5 that he feels need to be answered before a final decision is made. 

He added that any residents who have concerns about their zoning area or don't want it changed need to reach out to his office and speak out to any public forums offered by the county. 

The agenda for the April 5 county council meeting has not been shared yet, but residents can attend on Tuesday, March 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Ballentine Community Center in Irmo.