Town may face legal challenges over zoning fiasco

A failed zoning change for nine acres of land at Dreher Shoals Rd. (Hwy 6) and Farming Creek Road could spell trouble for the Town of Irmo in the form of a lawsuit. The 30-acre tract was to be rezoned from Fringe Agricultural to Office Commercial which would allow a developer to put in a self-storage facility along with three out parcels on nine acres of the site.

The developers have been working on this project since the Irmo Planning Commission gave its approval and recommended a zoning change back in May of 2022 and have done everything that was asked of them to pave the way to the zoning change. The original change was voted down because the change was to take the property from Fringe Agricultural to General Commercial which opens the door to most anything being developed there. “It’s too big a jump without some sort of buffer,” said Irmo Town Councilman Bill Danielson. “We need a solid vision.”

When that change was brought to council and defeated, the developer, Brannon Graybill, said he would return with an alternative plan. The next zoning consideration for that land was to make it Office Commercial which restricts certain businesses but would allow storage units. Council voted that through in their first reading.

The council also asked to have the nine acres split from the original 30 acres and be given a new tax identification or TMS number. This would allow the council to rule on the nine acres and leave the other acreage as Fringe Agricultural. Town council asked the developers to come back with separate TMS numbers so that they could rezone the nine acres and not affect the other 21 acres leaving them as Fringe Agricultural.

At the final reading on the change, the developers had received the two separate identities for the property.

Some residents near the property have objected to the change stating that there are plenty of self-storage units in the area or suggesting the property could be used for something better. Others feared that traffic would increase. “I can’t get out of my neighborhood now,” said Dan Smith. “The area is already overdeveloped.”

Others say that there is no need for more commercial space claiming that there is property for sale elsewhere that already have commercial zoning.

A big problem is that the majority of the complaints are coming from people who do not live in the town of Irmo. The complaints are coming from close proximity neighborhoods to the property in question but are not inside the town limits. Irmo Town Council makes decisions based on the impact to the town and its citizens. Complaints coming from outside the town are considered but usually don’t affect decisions. In this case, the opposite appears to be true. Councilman Erik Sickinger had voted with having changes made to the parcel all along until it appeared that the vote would allow storage units. Kelly Busch had been against the zoning from the beginning. After three trips to council and all the preparation and reorganizing that was involved Councilman Erik Sickinger change his vote and with Councilwoman Barb Waldman and Councilman Kelly Busch voted against the zoning change.

The owner of the property may now have legal recourse against the town.