After an agent for DDC Engineers, Inc. asked Conway City Council to defer an announced public hearing as well as a planned vote on a rezoning request for the corner of U.S. 701 and Creel Street, council listened to two letters from residents opposing the rezoning and then gave the issue first reading.
The agent said DDC principal Mike Wooten was away for a week and a half and he had been unable to set up a community meeting to discuss the issue with nearby residents.
The issue involves rezoning 4.78 acres at 2999 Fourth Avenue that is zoned now for R-1, low to medium density residential, to highway commercial (HC).
Council discussed the issue at its June 15th meeting when no plans for what might go on the property were given. However, an issue paper in city council’s packet for this past Monday’s meeting says the rezoning is needed for a drive-thru restaurant.
Actually, the issue was first presented to council four years ago. It was deferred then because officials didn’t know how close the planned Perimeter Road would come to the property.
However, a route has been selected and it comes into U.S. 701 a good distance from the site in question.
Residents, who could not attend the virtual council meeting, stated their opposition in letters to council.
Creel Street resident Robert Collins said the property is located on a dangerous blind curve with heavy traffic traveling at speeds in excess of 55 mph, plus there are three streets that intersect U.S. 701 at that curve. They are Watson, Janette and Creel streets.
“We live in a nice, peaceful, family oriented neighborhood, if you allow this change to highway commercial you are giving up any power you have to regulate the activities on this property and giving them to the property owner, which could have disastrous effects on our community,” Collins wrote, reminding council that allowed uses in an HC zone include bars, taverns, nightclubs, pool halls, tobacco shops, liquor shops, auto and boat repair shops and meat processing facilities.
“I ask that you imagine this is your home and ask yourself would you want to live next to one of these businesses. Would you want these elements around your children? How would you feel if a family gets killed on their way to school, because you added commercial traffic on a dangerous curve in an already stressed location?”
Janice DeAngelis also shared her worries about the already heavy traffic in the area.
She lives across the street from the property and pointed out that she and her neighbors already have difficulty turning right onto Fourth Avenue from Creel Street, and she called turning left onto Fourth Avenue “a nightmare”.
“My neighbors and I attended the last rezoning meeting for this property a few years ago and we had the opportunity to speak as to why we were opposed to the rezoning request. Our voice was heard and we prevailed with our reasoning,” she wrote.
She also pointed out that Jamestown Baptist Church is “in the process of completing its new building which is on the other side of Fourth Avenue. With its completion, obviously more traffic will ensue,” she wrote.
She suggested that the owner build homes on the property.
Council does not vote at workshop meetings.
On Monday, Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy said she couldn’t see what it would hurt to delay the issue, but decided to hear from the people who had written letters for the public hearing. Council then went ahead and gave first reading to the rezoning, saying it will take public comments again at its meeting Aug. 3 when it will consider second and final reading.
The city’s Comprehensive Plan shows the parcel as highway commercial on its Future Land Use Map.
Voting in favor of the first reading Monday night were Councilmen Shane Hubbard, Justin Jordan, William Goldfinch and Alex Hyman. Jean Timbes, Larry White and the Mayor voted no.
Conway’s planning commission approved the rezoning recently on a 5-1 vote.
City documents show the owner of the property as DAQ Investments out of Pawleys Island with Donald A. Quattlebaum listed as the the company’s owner.
Conway City Council voted Monday night to spend $260,000 to get a five-foot wide sidewalk on Elm Street from 16th Avenue to Mill Pond Road.
The majority of the $660,000 price tag will come from the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study group.
City council first discussed the sidewalk in 2014 when the price was estimated at $289,000.
Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy reasoned that if council doesn’t build the sidewalk now, the price will only increase.
She also pointed out that people using the sidewalk will be primarily people without cars.
It was also noted that the sidewalk is a great way for supporters to get to Conway athletic fields and to the fitness center.
Conway’s public works director Kevin Chestnut pointed out that much of the cost will be directed at getting the sidewalk across Crabtree Canal and crossing the bridge.
Deputy City Administrator/Planning and Development Director Mary Catherine Smith said the city’s portion of the cost likely won’t be needed until the next fiscal year.
City Administrator Adam Emrick pointed out that engineering for the project will likely take about a year.
More money to fight COVID
City administrator Adam Emrick told council that the Conway Police Department has received a $29,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to purchase COVID equipment.