Planners OK density increase for Weeping Willows subdivision between North Augusta, Clearwater

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Sep. 16—The Aiken County Planning Commission reconsidered Sept. 15 a request involving the plan for the Weeping Willows subdivision and approved it with contingencies.

The vote was 5-0, with one member, Dennis Gmerek, abstaining.

Chairman Grace Vance also didn't vote.

As a result of the Planning Commission's action, the applicant, Turner Development LLC of Washington, D.C., can increase the density of development in a section of the nearly 175-acre Weeping Willows site, which is located between North Augusta and Clearwater.

Sixty-eight townhomes will be constructed in that area. The previous proposal called for 32 single-family residences.

At its August meeting, the Planning Commission voted 3-2 against a motion to approve the request with contingencies.

"There were questions about several items" during the public hearing and discussions among Planning Commission members in August, said Aiken County's chief planning officer, Joel Duke.

Concern was expressed about whether a subdivision document was "in order," he explained, and whether it reflected any previously approved or proposed changes.

There also was a question about whether the traffic analysis reflected any previously approved or proposed changes.

In addition, there was concern about the possibility that there were graves of slaves on the Weeping Willows property.

Duke told the Planning Commission on Sept. 15 that the document in question and the traffic analysis both had been updated and submitted to the Aiken County Planning and Development Department.

Tracey Turner of Turner Development reported to the Planning Commission on Sept. 15 that "there is no documented slave grave" on the Weeping Willows land.

Last October, the Planning Commission unanimously approved, with contingencies, a request to change the zoning designation for the Weeping Willows property from Urban Development to Planned Use District (PUD) Type A.

Then, this past March, the Planning Commission unanimously approved both the preliminary plat (design) for the subdivision and a PUD Type A amendment.

The request made at the August meeting, which the Planning Commission reconsidered Sept. 15, also was a PUD Type A amendment.

The Weeping Willows site is bounded by Old Aiken Road and Jefferson Davis Highway/U.S. Highway 1.

In addition to townhomes and single-family residents, apartments will be built on the property.

The Planning Commission meets at the Aiken County Government Center in Aiken.

In other action Sept. 15, the panel unanimously approved by 6-0 votes two requests for one-year preliminary plat extensions for subdivisions that are scheduled to be built.

One of the extensions was for section one of Clearwater Preserve on Jefferson Davis Highway, which also is known as U.S. Highway 1.

There will be 98 lots on approximately 71 acres, according to the meeting's agenda.

The applicant was Beazley Development Company Inc. The engineer is Southern Partners Inc.

The other extension was for Arbor Ridge on Columbia Highway North, which also is part of U.S. Highway 1, near Aiken.

There will be eight lots on 10 acres.

The applicant was J & E Properties. The engineer is C.E. Dudley.

"The rule is that you're supposed to complete the final plat prior to the two-year time period granted on the preliminary plat," Duke said. "Neither project had actually come to completion with all of what was approved in the preliminary plat (by the Planning Commission)."

Also Sept. 15, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 against a request for a variance involving the construction of a private road on property located in the Dry Branch Road area south of Aiken and near New Ellenton.

The applicant was Ernest Odom.