Laurens City Council Backs a Rejection of ‘Spot Zoning’

 Zoning and the future of Laurens was the subject of a heated exchange at last night’s Laurens City Council meeting. The debated item was a request by Patsy Adams to re-zone her property located at 764 East Main Street from commercial to industrial. Adams requested the change to accommodate her renting the building to Mike Kinard to be used as a machine shop.

     The city’s planning commission had already denied the request by a 6-2 vote, after a public hearing on November 12th. Adams asked council to address some of the concerns that the planning commission used as reason to give a “no” vote.

       “I know my request was turned down, but I want to make a point, I feel that this case needs further consideration, the commission denied my request due to two specific reasons, one was that I, as owner, could bring in the type of business that is no good for the area, like one dealing with live animals if the machine shop moved out, and the second being that if machinery was left outside it would be an eyesore.” She continued “Well, the building is too small for any animals, and the machinery used in the shop would be too expensive to just leave outside.”

     Adams also accused the planning commission of contacting city council to urge them to agree with their vote.

     City Attorney Tom Thompson reminded council that the planning commission makes the initial decision but council can reverse it by majority vote and the owner can still appeal to a circuit court if council says no.

     Councilman Martin Lowry, whose wife is the head of the planning commission, said his wife is an expert on “Spot Zoning,” and that no one knows what could happen in the future if the commission’s decision was overturned.

     Mayor Sharon Brownlee said “I have to trust the people on the planning commission, and since the vote was six to two, it must be a good idea.”     Council voted to uphold the Zoning Board’s decision with one “No” vote from Council Member Sylvia Douglas.