Despite six letters and a petition with 53 names opposing a zoning change needed for a Dollar General to relocate to U.S. 501 near a residential neighborhood, Conway City Council approved the change Monday night.
The Dollar General needs to rezone 1.15 acres on Church Street at Richardson Street so its store located at the Kmart Plaza can move to the new location.
Councilman Shane Hubbard made the motion to give first reading to the requested change from Horry County Residential to City of Conway Highway Commercial. A second and final reading is expected later this month.
Councilman William Goldfinch seconded the motion, saying that he sympathizes with the residents who signed the petition and wrote letters to council. He said the same person who asked for the rezoning also owns surrounding property, and he pointed out that U.S. 501 is an important busy, four-lane road headed into Conway.
“Nobody likes change,” he said in response to the residents’ plea to preserve their “nice, quiet neighborhood.”
“This is a quiet, single family neighborhood with young children that play (ride bikes, skate, etc.), handicap persons, senior citizens and those that walk through the neighborhood. The business that is proposed to be built…will create a safety hazard with the increased traffic this business brings,” Richardson Street resident Lynne French wrote.
She also worries as do other of her neighbors that the new business will devalue their property values.
“Please don’t ruin this area by putting a busy business so close to our homes. Since it is already zoned residential, why not build homes??” she asked.
She also pointed out that there are many unoccupied places along Church Street that would be better suited for the new business.
Theresa Ross Dean, who has lived in that neighborhood for 25 years, wrote, “We have long enjoyed the peace and serenity of our neighborhood for many years with my children growing up here being able to ride their bikes and relaxing walks around the neighborhood greeting one another without the worry of a busy street.”
Dean also worries about a narrow road, and no streetlights at what she and others call a blind turn.
She also suggested that the Dollar General locate into an existing building that would take away an eyesore and help revitalize Conway.
Emily Blewitt, the mother of two children, wrote that she has lived in Conway for about six years.
“When I moved from out of state, I chose this neighborhood due to its quaint feel and quiet location. Even though it is located off of Highway 501/Church St., this neighborhood felt like an escape from the city feel. My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed going for walks, riding bicycles, and playing at the neighborhood houses,” Blewitt wrote.
She also wrote, “I was saddened and disappointed to be notified of the rezoning in our residential neighborhood and feel like this will take away from the small town feeling in this city. I understand that growing the economy in Conway is important; however I do notice there are so many vacant buildings that can be utilized within the city without having to build another commercial building.”
As for building homes on these vacant lots, Deputy City Administrator/Planning and Development Director Mary Catherine Hyman gave the opinion that the S.C. Department of Transportation probably would not give the needed curb cuts if anyone wanted to build homes on the property.
Goldfinch added that there are many requests for commercial businesses in that area.
“I don’t know how you don’t do this,” he said.
Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy and Councilman Larry White cast the only two negative votes.
The city’s Comprehensive Plan identifies these parcels as Highway Commercial and Low Density Residential on its Future Land Use Map.
The city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved the rezoning request at its June 4 meeting.