Landrum leaders to re-envision plans for future

Published 8:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2018

Council, planning commission to discuss controversial zoning changes

LANDRUM — Following heated discussions with members of the community — and one another — members of the Landrum City Council will meet with the planning commission to discuss revisions to the city’s controversial proposed zoning changes.

The council decided during its meeting Tuesday evening to cancel the first reading of the six new zoning ordinances, which call for, among other changes, restrictions on the types of new businesses that could open on the first floor of buildings located in portions of downtown Landrum. The council members plan to meet with members of the Landrum Planning Commission within the next 30 days to discuss revisions to the proposed changes.

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The council decided to scrap the scheduled reading and public hearing during its work session earlier in the afternoon, where members discussed the ordinances. During the talk, Councilman Daniel Prince said he thought it was “wrong” how the council was trying to pass all six zoning changes at once, as he believed the board was presenting the public with too much information at one time, and that people opposed to one proposed ordinance may not have time to look at the other ones.

“I don’t like any [of the ordinances],” Prince said. “There’s something I don’t like about every single one of them. I’ve had people call me to tell me that… I don’t know how many phone calls y’all are getting, but I’m getting a bunch of them, and I haven’t gotten one yet that supported any of it.”

The decision to revise the plans follows the council’s contentious meeting last month, where many Landrum residents and business owners shared their opposition to the zoning ordinances, which were created by the planning commission as part of the city’s “Envision Landrum” initiative, a 10-year plan the city council adopted in 2017. Following September’s public hearing, Landrum council members voted to table the first reading of the zoning ordinances, postponing the reading until October.

Among the proposed zoning changes is the creation of a “Downtown Overlay Pedestrian District” in stretches of downtown Landrum, which would require any new businesses that open on the ground floor of buildings located in the zone to be retail-focused, such as shops, restaurants, hotels and similar uses. Law offices, churches and other non retail-oriented establishments that are not already in operation would be restricted to other floors of affected buildings.

Other proposed zoning changes include increasing the number of apartments allowed per acre to 16 units on lots zoned “R-3,” and changes to certain downtown property regulations to clear the way for walking and bike paths.

Despite canceling Tuesday’s public hearing concerning the ordinances, nearly a dozen of the Landrum residents packed inside the council’s chambers that evening spoke out against the proposed zoning changes during the public comment period.

Among these speakers was Jenni Arias, owner of downtown Landrum’s Honey Children’s Shop, who said she could not understand why, after hearing such fierce opposition to the plans last month, the council would put them up for consideration again. 

“I want you to think about the businesses [that] are giving to the city, no matter what they are,” she said.