Aiken planning panel recommends rezoning Waterloo Street neighborhood

November 15, 2018

Despite some public pushback, the Aiken Planning Commission has given its go-ahead to rezone a collection of properties situated between Richland Avenue West and Hayne Avenue.

The Planning Commission, an advisory body, on Tuesday night unanimously recommended 11 properties fronting Waterloo Street be rezoned to limited business. A majority of those properties have most recently been used for commercial purposes, according to planning documents.

Thirteen total properties were under consideration Tuesday. Two general business parcels were ultimately exempted from the rezoning recommendation.

Limited business zoning is designed for a mix of residential, pedestrian and commercial uses – what’s been often described as a transition district.

Jack Hunter, the Planning Commission interim chairman, said a “balanced approach” is needed and was sought.

Waterloo Street is a two-lane road just west of what is typically seen as Aiken’s downtown district. The right of way is handled by the state transportation department, according to planning information.

The collective rezoning now heads to the Aiken City Council.

“This is it, we’re going to pass it on,” Hunter said before a related work session began. The Planning Commission could have spiked the rezoning; the matter would still have been passed up to City Council.

City Council will have the final say in the Waterloo matter, and changes will require two readings – and approvals – of an ordinance.

City Council on Monday night amended exactly what limited business entails. The zoning now prohibits liquor store and convenience store uses.

Members of City Council have expressed concerns about the Waterloo neighborhood and supposed under-utilized properties there. The premise to rezone the Waterloo Street area was first handed down to the Planning Commission over the summer.

A spate of public hearings have since been held on the matter.

“We’ve done our due diligence on this,” Hunter said.

Only a few people spoke against the rezoning Tuesday night. There was more backlash during previous meetings.

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