Freida Gray, left, and Erin and Perry Williams convinced planning commissioners to deny Greer Baptist Association-owned property to be rezoned commercial.
Planning Commissioner Brian Martin, center with head down, contemplates voting on a request to re-zone property commercial at 309 W. Poinsett.
Glenn Pace, City Planning and Zoning Director, saw his department's recommendation to rezone property at 309 West Poinsett Street as commercial denied.
The City of Greer Planning Commission voted 5-0 to deny property owned by the Greer Baptist Association (GBA) at 309 West Poinsett Street to be rezoned from residential to C-2 (commercial) for the purpose of operating a Christian bookstore.
Perry and Erin Williams, owners of residential property at 401 W. Poinsett Street and neighbor Freida Gray convinced commissioners, after about 80 minutes of arguments and one break, to keep the residential zoning in place.
Chuck Langston, of Langston Black Real Estate, represented the owners of the GBA property.
“This is the hardest decision I had to make since my time on the planning commission,” Brian Martin, a Greer attorney, said. “I can’t see an opening for that property for a future use bookstore and it being put in the middle of all that residential property.”
Martin made the motion to deny the zoning request and Don Foster seconded. Martin said his reluctance, “with a heavy heart” was that the denial for rezoning couldn’t be presented for one year.
“In six years I have voted for C-2 every time until tonight,” Foster, who seconded the motion, said.
Williams and Langston had an exchange while commissioners were voting on Martin’s motion.
Perry Williams: “We are completely surrounded with residential. I think it should be up to the residents to determine what to do with our properties. There are nine other properties zoned for commercial on Poinsett. This is not a deal breaker.”
Langston: “It is with this, because this is the property they want.”
Glenn Pace’s (Planning and Zoning Director) recommendation for approval was nixed by commissioners. Pace’s report said, “The area is currently transitioning from residential to commercial due to pressures from the downtown central business district. The property has been zoned residential since 1953.”
Perry Williams disagreed with Pace’s recommendation. “The property is surrounded on all sides residential,” Williams said.
Erin Williams, using a laser pointer, showed commissioners the surrounding properties around the Greer Baptist Association were all zoned residential. “It’s hard to get in and out of (James Avenue) when they hold meetings,” Erin said. “The main point I am telling you is it’s residential around us and our property has been residential.” She also said seeing downtown and surrounding areas maintaining their appearances is more advantageous to the city of Greer.
Freida Gray said she and her husband, Doug, bought into their property as an investment in downtown Greer as much as protecting the older and aesthetic neighborhoods within the city. “I can’t imagine living across the street (corner of Pine and Poinsett) from a commercial property.”
Commissioners appeared taken aback when they learned the GBA interior was built as an office. “What classification is legal non-conforming?” commissioner Chris Harrison asked.
Commissioners Foster, Martin, Harrison, Judy O. Jones and Suzanne Traenkle voted for denial. Morris Burton and Clay Jones were absent.
Other simpler motions approved:
• Bruce Culbertson’s request (Culbertson Land, Co. III, LLC) to rezone 2.89 acres on S. Buncombe Road and Commerce Drive to C-3 (commercial) for a second Main Street Car Wash. “I’m going to put in a larger more modern operation,” Culbertson said. He said the Main Street Car Wash will remain at S. Main Street and the name will be carried over to the additional location.
• Property at 395 Old Woodruff Road approved to residential (R-12, single family). It was previously zoned C-2 (commercial).