COLUMBIA — After four public hearings on a proposal to rezone the Great Hang-ups property and adjacent land, neighbors opposed to the request won the City Council’s support.
The council voted *5-2 to reject the request involving property at West Broadway and West Boulevard, despite the unanimous approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission last month.
Mark Nichols and Patra Mierzwa, owners of Great Hang-ups Framing and three adjacent residential properties, wanted to rezone the four-parcel property from residential to a planned business district.
Last week the planning department approved a protest petition, filed by concerned neighbors. The petition required signatures from at least 30 percent of owners within 185 feet of the property; 10 neighbors signed the petition. The approved petition meant the proposal would have required an affirmative vote by five members of the council rather than a simple majority of four.
Cookie Hagan, president of the Historic Sunset Lane neighborhood association, worried that the developers failed to include a detailed site plan that would have addressed issues such as traffic flow, entrances and exits, parking and sewer systems, she said.
“It’s very important to see a site plan because no one has bought the property yet,” Hagan said. “It’s putting the cart before the horse. We don’t want our corner to be another costly mistake.”
Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill moved to table the decision until the owners could submit a site plan. But the prospect of prolonging the debate, which has been ongoing for months, prompted the council to vote.
Virginia Carpenter said the neighborhood would be compromised, not enhanced, if the rezoning were to occur.
“It shouldn’t be that the wants of one overrule the needs of many,” she said. “Businesses come and go. Our neighborhood should not be a part of the gamble.”
Hagan and other opposed neighbors were pleased with the council’s decision.
“Now we have an opportunity to do something right. We care about our community, and I hope they take some time. We don’t want mistakes,” she said.
The council's rejection of the rezoning request means Nichols and Mierzwa cannot file another request for at least a year.