Monday evening the Dearing Town Council approved a rezoning request that will allow for construction of three new single-family homes near the intersection of Neal’s Mill Road and Hillman Gay Road.
An earlier proposal to develop the parcel that partially falls in the city and partially in the unincorporated county was not approved. That earlier request proposed construction of multi-family housing. In the case of Monday’s 4-0 vote to approve, the council was accepting the recommendation of the McDuffie County Planning Commission. The planning board had already recommended approval for the request to rezone the 1.33 acre portion of the parcel, within the city, from RA to R-SF2, which is medium family residential.
The zoning request came from Ashlee Harmon, who wants to develop 7.75 acres and subdivide the land into three building sites located in the town and three building lots located just outside the town limits.
Chase Beggs, director of planning and zoning for McDuffie County, explained to the board that the three lots in the county already meet the county requirements and needed no rezoning. The planning board recommended the rezoning of the land for the three lots within the town by a 6-0 vote on Oct. 5. The board did place stipulations that an area of land that is landlocked behind the lots be surveyed into the proposed lots.
A public hearing was held in advance of Monday evening’s regular meeting and vote on the request. One area resident spoke and expressed concerns. Butch Swierczynski, a Neal’s Mill Road resident, explained how he moved here from Florida where he watched housing density increase dramatically. His concern was that if this were rezoned, then other parcels might later be rezoned to allow small lots.
Mayor Sean Kelley explained that the town’s current zoning does allows homes to be built on as small as a quarter of an acre.
“These are actually bigger than what we require and I am actually pleased with that,” said Kelley. “I understand exactly what you are saying. Had this not been so agriculturally zoned, probably we wouldn’t even been having this meeting.”
Swierczynski, in a non-adversarial way, continued the discussion and asked about other nearby homes.
“Just because you are new doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice,” Kelley told Swierczynski. “I appreciate anybody that comes and wants to speak up. That’s great, we like participation so we are glad to have you.”
Later, in the regular meeting, Kelley said Deputy Barry Whitfield is ready to come work with the community to reestablish a neighborhood watch. The mayor said years ago there was a neighborhood watch, but somehow it fell to the wayside.
“With all the influx of new people, foot traffic and everything else, we kind of thought it might be a good idea to try to get that neighborhood watch started back up,” Kelley explained.
Someone in the audience asked Kelley if the group would only be for residents who live within the town limits. The mayor said he will welcome anyone, inside the city or not, to participate. He said it will be open to others in the Dearing community who live outside the city limits.
“I want as far out as I can get. If you want to be involved, get involved,” he added.
The council also touched on several events that are upcoming including: •Trunk or Treat — Oct. 30 at the walking track •Dearing Christmas Tree Lighting — Friday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m. •Farmers Market — the Farmers Market will hold a special holiday market on Dec. 11.