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Concerns aired at Sumter County Council meeting over rezoning request in rural community

BY SHELBIE GOULDING shelbie@theitem.com
Posted 8/29/19

Sumter residents mostly filled the room at the Sumter County Council meeting to address their concerns about a rezoning and the case of a slain mother and her missing 5-year-old daughter on Tuesday.

Community members voiced their concerns about …

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Concerns aired at Sumter County Council meeting over rezoning request in rural community

Posted

Sumter residents mostly filled the room at the Sumter County Council meeting to address their concerns about a rezoning and the case of a slain mother and her missing 5-year-old daughter on Tuesday.

Community members voiced their concerns about property on Concord Circle becoming a general commercial site.

Property owner Mayester Capers wants about two acres zoned agricultural conservation to be general commercial at 1040, 1050 and 1060 Concord Circle.

Capers said the property will become a strip mall and general store, where she plans to sell produce from her garden to the community.

This was the second reading of the rezoning, and Sumter City-County Planning Commission recommends denial of the request.

Capers, along with her attorney, Frank Shuler, addressed council.

"Her desire is to use the property for better use," Shuler said.

His client is community oriented and would like to support her community because it's an older community with residents who don't want to travel far for groceries and other types of stores.

"We need a barber shop, a beauty shop and a general store," Capers said. "In order to do that, you have to travel so far. We have a lot of retirees back there, and people don't want to travel that far, and a lot of them aren't able to travel that far. Some of these people don't even have a license."

She said driving 10-15 miles isn't convenient for the community and thinks everyone in the community is looking for something easier.

A resident of the community spoke about her concerns that building a commercial site will disrupt the peace of the community and make it unsafe by drawing in the wrong crowd.

Sumter resident Louis Watkins said Capers' property is an opportunity to develop more for the community, and he is in favor of the rezoning.

Sumter resident Mandy Branson is in support of Capers' country store idea because she finds it hard to find assistance from the community and develop new commercial space in Sumter.

Branson herself has tried to open her own business but said the city and county make it difficult and that there's "so much red tape" involved in developing commercial use for the community.

Chairman Jim McCain closed the public hearing, and Councilman Charles Edens addressed the public, saying that this rezoning is the perfect example that explains why the AC conditional use was put in place years ago.

"Every item that she [Capers] mentioned that she would like to do is possible to do with the AC conditional use, without rezoning all of this commercial," Edens said. "Once you rezone a general commercial, you open the door to a lot of uses you probably don't want there, and they won't have to ask you. You won't have any input at that point."

Edens said if Capers would apply for the AC conditional use, all of the uses would fall under a category of 300 feet or 500 feet, and the neighbors within that area will be notified and get to vote.

He said it will take two-thirds of the community in that range to approve the commercial property and what it can be used for.

Rezoning will only open the commercial property for a multitude of uses, which is what concerns the community the most.

Shuler asked the council to go forward with the second reading and give Capers the opportunity to explore options with the planning commission in order to find a middle ground for the commercial property.

The council made a motion to defer the rezoning of the property with Capers and the planning commission. All approved the motion.

During the public comments, eight people addressed their concerns about the Nevaeh Adams and Sharee Bradley case, saying law enforcement and city officials aren't showing compassion for the family, and they plan to search for the missing daughter, Nevaeh, themselves. Bradley was found dead in her Lantana Apartments home Aug. 5, and her daughter is presumed dead by Sumter Police Department officers and still missing. Daunte Johnson has been charged with two counts of murder in the case.

County administrator Gary Mixon also said the county is in the process of starting a monthly county newsletter.

Starting in September, county council meetings will be held in the small courtroom of the Sumter County Courthouse, 141 N. Main St., during the remodeling of the Administration Building.