Local residents opposing a potential apartment complex development along Patriot Parkway could have one last chance to convince Sumter City Council to oppose the measure when the council meets Tuesday night.
At their last meeting, by a 4-to-3 vote, council granted initial approval to rezone a 12-acre lot near Deschamps Road currently zoned for agricultural conservation. Changing the zoning for the property, only recently annexed into the city limits, could pave the way for the property owners to develop an apartment complex on the land, as they have indicated them plan to do.
Led by local developer Harvey Senter, a large number of the area’s residents have vehemently protested the potential multi-family housing development, bombarding council members with letters and petitions expressing their opposition to the possibility. Among their concerns are heightened traffic, negative impact of local property values and a dramatic change in the neighborhood’s quality of life.
“This will cause Patriot Parkway to become a ‘malfunction junction’ just like Harbison Blvd,” said Jean Angle in her letter to council members, referencing the thoroughfare in Columbia.
Sumter resident William NcNeily implored council members to honor a promise he said was made to the residents of Patriot Parkway when the road connecting the city with Shaw Air Force Base was first established. “The policy was created to avoid the very thing that in happening now,” McNeily wote. “In the eyes of the citizens the council that made the promise years ago is the same council today.”
In his letter, local resident James Kelley praised the three council members opposing the rezoning. “These men and women understand the extreme distress this is going to bring to the local single family homeowners in the form of lower property values, massive traffic problems, the loss of the promised ‘Green Corridor’ and finally threatening keeping Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter because of population density in the vicinity of fighter aircraft traffic patterns,” Kelley wrote.
When presenting the request of the property developers to council, Sumter City-County Planning Director George McGregor noted that the new zoning fits within the Sumter City-County 2030 Comprehensive Plan. His office has recommended council approve the request.
During their last meeting, Sumter mayor Joe McElveen joined council members Robert Galiano, Calvin Hastie and David Merchant in approving the motion, while council members Steve Corley, Ione Dwyer and Thomas “Bubba” Lowery opposed the rezoning.
Also on the agenda for Tuesday, council is expected to finalize transfer of the Black Rive Spec Building to Sumter County to help facilitate a potential company locating in the building. Few details regarding the potential economic development have been made public, however during their last meeting, McElveen confirmed the ongoing negotiations, saying he believed the announcement could occur in the next few months.
Council is also expected to consider initial approval of selling the lot at 31 North Main Street to a private developer.
Sumter City Council’s meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers on the fourth floor of the Sumter Opera House. The meeting is open to the public, and anyone wishing to attend should enter the building through the city Utility Finance Department offices in the rear entrance of the opera house, and take the elevator to the fourth floor.