Easley Planning Commission denies S. E Street rezoning request

The city of Easley held a planning commission meeting on Monday, March 20, 2023 at 5:30PM in the Law Enforcement Center. They heard and voted on 2 rezoning requests:

Easley Planning Commission meeting on March 20, 2023.

REZONING REQUEST-approximately 1.35 acres located at 109 Brushy Creek Road from OI (Office Institutional) to NC (Neighborhood Commercial). John Daoust, 709 Shefwood Drive, Easley, SC 29642. Located on Tax Map: 5029-18-40-9337 

According to Mr. Daoust, the purpose of this rezoning request is to enable a hair salon owner wishing to lease the space from him to sell hair care products. Under the current zoning, she isn’t allowed to sell hair products and other retail items to her clients. The request was unanimously approved by all members of the board.

Exhibit image for the rezoning request along Brushy Creek Road.

REZONING REQUEST- approximately 1.34 acres located at 501 S. E Street, Easley, SC from R-10 (Residential) to GR-2 (General Residential). Joshua J. Ament, 141 N. Cedar Rock Road, Easley, SC 29640. Located on Tax Map: 5029-14-43-1659

Mr. Ament requested the lot to be rezoned to GR-2 because he wants to put 4 townhomes on that property. He is hoping to lease the single family structure already on the lot along with the townhomes for additional rental income for his family. He does not plan to reside in any of the structures on the property.

He also brought up the idea of dividing the current lot into 2, keeping Lot 1 under the current zoning where his father’s property stands. He is spending $80- $90,000 rehabbing his fathers house to rent out in the future. This would require him to resubmit a different, new rezoning request once the lot was subdivided for the city to allow him to put the townhomes on Lot 2.

Several neighbors spoke out against the rezoning.

Lethea Parker of Stuart Drive mentioned how Creekside Dr was supposed to be town homes, and is now 60 apartments. She spoke about how many apartments are all around her already, 356 units within a mile radius. She counted 120 cars in 1 hour going down the street because of school traffic cutting through to Hwy 123. She brought up several points in the zoning ordinance to illustrate how the area would be negatively impacted by the rezoning. 

Clova Vaughan whose family lived in the neighborhood since the 1930s was also opposed to the request. She asked why we needed that many apartments near the middle school. How will the city handle all those units at full capacity? She brought up that Bob Fedder who is on the planning commission used to live in the area. He spoke against similar rezoning requests for apartments in that area years ago.

John Cleveland in the neighborhood spoke against overzealous modernization. The area is old and established where neighbors know each other. He wants to see it remain that way.

Reggie Stapleton asked how many homes could potentially be put into a lot with GR-2 zoning. Currently, the ordinance now allows up to 18 units. However, in July when the new ordinance will hopefully be in effect, that number will decrease to 9.  

Donna Rainey asked if this request would be grandfathered under old zoning laws, or under the new zoning ordinance that’s being drafted. If the request was approved last night, it would have fallen under the old ordinance.

Cynthia Elliott asked about the timeline of the development. Mr. Ament responded that it was still undetermined because they still need to establish funding. Realistically they don’t expect to break ground before 2024.

The planning commission gave the following opinions:

Calvin Wright was OK with allowing for the rezoning of one subdivided lot under the lower density ordinance.  Letresa Gilstrap wants residential to stay residential. She agreed that the neighborhood is close to being historic area, and wants to see smaller residential homes going in this area. Bob Fedder suggested that if Mr. Ament wanted rental properties he could cut up into single family dwellings lots [decreasing his income potential by half]. Lowell Seal had no comment.

Letresa Gilstrap made the motion to decline. The vote was unanimous to deny the rezoning request. The request will still go before city council 4/10, and 5/8 unless Mr. Ament chooses to withdraw his request. It must now pass both readings before the city council to be approved. 

Exhibit image for the rezoning request along S. E Street.