top of page

Passionate Crowd Airs Concerns and Questions About Proposed Land Use Ordinance

Daniel Prince

Planning Commission to seek more feedback from affected groups before ordinance goes back to council

A large, passionate crowd packed into Main Street Junction Tuesday for a public meeting of the Union County Planning Commission. The meeting was scheduled so the commission could receive feedback from the public about the proposed draft of land use regulations that is going before Union County Council.

Some of the questions asked touched on topics such as passing land down to the next generation; the one-mile away from residential use requirement for locating stockyards, slaughterhouses, poultry houses, and livestock auction houses; whether the automotive racetrack requirements would pertain to racing such as what happens at Big Buck; the requirements for flag lots; why additional requirements are included for agricultural uses when DHEC already has regulations in place for certain uses; and the definition of subdivision. Several expressed the need for more transparency in the process, including more publicity of the commission’s meetings and process. A couple of speakers called for the matter to be put to public referendum rather than to County Council for approval, a remark which drew applause from those gathered.

Henry Turner, who owns the property where the Big Buck races are held, warned that having a Land Development Administrator, as included in the regulations, would only create more regulations. He said he received calls about the proposed regulations from not just in Union but from states across the US. A couple of the speakers asked that the commission bring in representatives from the agricultural sector, racing sector, and other groups that would be affected by the regulations to get their perspective on it and how to improve the document to meet some of the concerns that are being raised.

Michael Forman, a certified planner and president of Conduit Planning, has been working closely with the commission to craft the draft regulations. He stressed the document is a work in progress, and that changes can and likely will be made to the document before its final approval by Union County Council. Council has the final say over the matter. At least three current council members, two incoming council members, and Supervisor Phillip Russell attended the meeting and heard the feedback. Council member David Sinclair said he took notes on the complaints and comments and will be sure that the council looks at them before the regulations are finalized.

Lewis Jeter, chairman of the Union County Planning Commission, stated that work on the county comprehensive plan and land use regulations that was a part of it began as far back as 2016 and has not been rushed through. He noted that throughout the comprehensive planning process, public forums and focus groups were held to receive feedback. This meeting was the first of its size and scope to get feedback on the regulations. Another public hearing will be held by Union County Council at a later date.

After the hearing, commission members expressed that the feedback they received at the meeting was exactly what they needed. The commission held a meeting immediately following the public hearing, and they unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing that land development regulations go before Union County Council. Union County Planning Director Kathy Jo Lancaster stated this is a state requirement that puts the weight of the commission’s wishes behind whatever the final document looks like. The resolution will be presented to Union County Council as information at its January meeting. Lancaster said second reading of the proposed land use ordinance will not take place in December as planned, since the document needs more work to include some of the feedback that was received.

Following an executive session for a contractual matter, the group came back together to briefly discuss the input from the public meeting and decided to resume subcommittee meetings in January to further discuss those items. They plan to include some members from the various sectors to participate in those meetings prior to the draft regulations being sent to council for second reading at a date to be determined. WBCU News will continue to follow this story and bring you updates on the process. You can watch yesterday’s public hearing on our WBCU Facebook page if you missed it.

no audio
00:00 / 01:04
bottom of page