Darlington seeing investment in possible housing development

Darlington seeing investment in possible housing development
A zoning and public hearing sign is found on the property that is set to be developed. (Source: Audrey Biesk)
A zoning and public hearing sign is found on the property that is set to be developed. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - The city of Darlington held a special meeting Thursday evening for city council members to talk with a developer who purchased eight acres of property earlier this year with the hopes of building a housing development.

It would be something Darlington has not seen in the last 20 years.

The land is near Barfield Road and a private road, Sartor Drive. It is considered Darlington County limits, so the developer is trying to petition for annexation of the land so it is under the city's jurisdiction.

"They're specifically going to talk a little bit more on the utility portion as far as the water, sewer and the road, because once the developer installs those at his cost to him, he will eventually give those to the city," said Lisa Chalian-Rock, director of economic development for Darlington.

Chalian-Rock said the developer is from Darlington and wants to see growth in his hometown. He also builds homes in Florence and Horry counties, and now wants to invest well over $1.5 million into the almost vacant property.

It would consist of around 30 single-family homes to rent, all 800 to 1,500 square feet in size. The area is on the northeast side of Darlington in an area where zoning does not allow for apartment or commercial development, but single-family homes are allowed.

"He wants to be a part of the city and that would be an extension to our tax base and additional residents to our population that has been declining for the past 20 years," said Chalian-Rock.

Linwood Epps has lived near the land for the past 30 years and said he is surprised, yet thankful, someone is coming to invest in his city.

"I am thankful that Mr. Evans chose Darlington because we are a small town and we don't have a large tax revenue and him investing in our city is something that's going to be beneficial to our city," Epps said.

He added his main concern is what city council will decide about zoning and what the developer will build there. Epps wants to keep his property value the same.

"If he would put something that is detrimental to what is already built in the neighborhood, then it could decrease the value of our property, and we don't want that," Epps said. "We want him to build according to what our houses are built by."

Chalian-Rock explained that with the city's comprehensive plan combined with economic development, something like this has been discussed between council members for years.

"They put forth that annexation was a big important issue and that they wanted the city limits to expand and I think everybody wants to see the city grow and every little piece helps," she said.

A public hearing was originally scheduled for Sept. 6 at 7p.m., to talk about the zoning of the property, but city council has postponed the hearing to get more plans from the developer.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.