Chapin residents share differing opinions on proposed road closure for commercial development
About 150 people attended a public hearing Tuesday evening in Chapin to learn about a proposed road closure and redirection in the town. Several shared their opinions on the issue, and there were strong sentiments on both sides.
Residents spoke after first hearing from Arnold Roberts, who was representing commercial real estate firm HR Developers.
Roberts shared with town council and the mayor the developers’ plan to close off Clark Street for 300 feet past the intersection of Clark and Water streets heading towards Chapin Road. The proposal does allow for a redirection of Clark Street to Chapin Road.
Roberts said the street has occupied and unoccupied homes and the road serves as a “transitional artery.”
The redirected portion of the road would cut through in front of a new commercial development and the existing part would be converted into a parking lot, according to a conceptual drawing. Residents who spoke during the public comment portion of the hearing mentioned rumors of a Publix grocery store locating there, but Roberts didn’t confirm.
“They are not the only player out there,” he said.
Nearly 6 acres of land off of Chapin Road, Lexington Avenue and Clark Street is under contract, according to Roberts. The conceptual drawing does feature a second, smaller development in the opposite corner at the Lexington Avenue and Chapin Road intersection.
“What we envision is the ultimate impact and would be a major enhancement,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he had spoken to state engineers and received general support for the road closure and redirection.
Mayor Skip Wilson asked about the maintenance of the redirected portion of Clark Street.
“The redirect would be a dedicated right of way under jurisdiction of the town of Chapin,” Roberts said. “It will not be a state road.
Roberts said it would be a bonded maintenance arrangement and the town wouldn’t be responsible for costs.
HR Developers plan to work with SCDOT to perform traffic studies if allowed to move forward.
“We’re of the opinion … there is little to no impact,” Roberts said.
Multiple Chapin residents who live on Clark Street expressed concerns they and their neighbors would be negatively affected. They mentioned the possibility that they wouldn’t have the access they need to U.S. Highway 76 (Chapin Road) if the developer put up “no thru traffic” signs.
“My biggest concern … is the lack of (quick) response time that our emergency vehicles will have to Clark Street and to the residents,” said Bonnie White, a nurse who lives on Clark Street.
Catherine Summer, another Clark Street resident, thinks the street has enough traffic to warrant it remaining the same. She said she’s noticed a steady stream of cars, whether they are people cutting through from Lexington Avenue when it’s congested or school buses.
“I am not anti-growth … but I am opposed to closing my street. I do not see that it would benefit those of us on the south end of the street at all,” she said.
Local attorney Jake Moore said he’s been hired by a several Clark Street residents to represent them in legal action if the road closure goes forward.
“The clients I represent are very distressed over the closure of the road as proposed,” he said. “(The) clients would intend to intervene in that action. … It would be our intent to fight it.”
Along with those in opposition of the change, many were for the move, especially if it will bring new development to the town.
Todd Jacobs, a Clark Street resident, said his property values have dropped as the street deteriorated.
“I see jobs coming to our town if this project happens,” he said. “Everything’s going to increase in value … If this town becomes unfriendly towards developers, they’ll say forget about it.”
Fellow resident Wendy Svoboda agreed that growth is needed in Chapin
“We need businesses here, (and) we need opportunities to shop and bring money to our own town,” she said.
Adrienne Thompson, zoning administrator for the town, asked council to consider the road closure and redirection also for the reason of beautification.
“This is like giving the town a $20 million free streetscape,” she said.
Another public hearing will take place in 30 days.
“We are just hearing public comment at this time,” Wilson said. “We do always encourage economic development.”