Cool Heads, But Subtle Political Undertones Too…

Some are playing checkers, some are playing chess. Either way, this continues to get interesting…

I went to the meeting in Columbia City Council Chambers today. The meeting was a little slow, and some of the comments were very repetitive, but overall it was very interesting.

Mayor Bob invited two builder/developers to the floor. They (one being Dorsey) presented a pretty good plan. It needs to be tweaked a little, but it is a great start. The biggest cog in its wheel is that an owner/builder/developer must post something on a property 15 days before any action can take place on the subject property.

Some sort of a 5 member review committee will then hear the plans from the owner/builder before an action can take place. My guess is that this committee will have more than 5 members when all is said and done. A second guess is that one of the members will be a revolving one, depending on which neighborhood a particular home or lot is in. I thought this was a good idea, until a permanent one can be found for Columbia.

One example of a good point was from a Rosewood resident. She noted that when one sells a backyard of a property, both properties very often lose the “drive in” driveways that the original property enjoyed. This makes for double the number of cars that must then park on the street. She made a great illustration saying that, because of the plethora of cars, there are many times that a fire-truck could not pass through her street.

If you are a political person (you would have to be to notice this), the best (but subtle) exchange came at the end. Mrs. Gergel stood up and said some very repetitive, but fine thoughts. However, she prefaced her thoughts, saying to the chamber that she never called for a “moratorium” on building. Hmmmm. I immediately wrote a note to the person seated to my left saying, “Belinda (Gergel) is trying to look like the big winner in all of this.” In my opinion, if Brian (Boyer) was going to flank this attempt, he needed to get to a reporter immediately. Immediately! If he didn’t, the press could have run with this and probably would have reported how Belinda has protected our neighborhoods. Instead, Brian took the microphone and reminded the crowd that Mrs. Gergel did indeed call for a complete moratorium (which would effectively shut down many industries, and act as an all out job killer). If Boyer had not reached the press fast, or grabbed the microphone in that moment, he may have been a victim of a good ole’ political two step. We will see how it plays in tomorrow’s (Wed) news…

Today, both sides had good points and cool heads. Stay tuned to see if these same heads can stay below Columbia’s summer heat…


  1. Everyone should know the drill by now with this issue. The City of Columbia has allowed the zoning of small lots to handle these houses being built. What do you need a committee for?

  2. It just go to show that you never can tell.

    Man, there ain’t nothing between Columbia and hell but a damn screen door.

  3. anonymous,

    I understand what you are saying. However, it looks as though the “drill” was greatly compromised when the old farmhouse in Heathwood was torn down at night. Then, it was announced that 9 lots were going to be formed as opposed to the “planned” 5.

    Since the “drill” was compromised, many think thay a new plan is needed. The committee that is mentioned in my Post is part of a temporary compromise, until a permanent plan is agreed upon by the Columbia city council.

    I, along with most everyone (except for Mrs. Gergel, who’s opinions are unlear at present)think that a committee is better than a full scale moratorium on our city.

    In my bias, a moratorium acts as commerce repellent and a job killer for Columbia.

    Again, the committee is part of a “reach out” effort from many industries to keep intown Columbia thriving.

  4. 2hot2day,

    Ha! No kidding…

    When I am behind a tree in golf, I almost always say, “Well, this thing is 95% air… I’m going for it.” As I try to bang my ball through the tree limbs, I can count on someone saying, “yeah, like a screen door,” or “like a tennis racquet!”

    One of my unwritten Columbia, SC rules is that I don’t wear a blue button down in the summer. It would be two tone, to say the least.

    It’s great for tans and losing weight, but not good for showing vacant houses! Ooooooooof. I was drenched twice today…

  5. Like every other issue in the world, there are two sides to everything. Franklin has done a great job of showing that.

    Just to add a little…
    On one side, you have developers and their respective subcontractors, builders, etc. These folks make their living off building structures, and to continue making a living, they gotta keep building.

    However, one point that seems to have been left out throughout these debates: it costs a lot to renovate an historic or existing property – often more than building a new one. Old homes need new wiring, new sheetrock to replace crumbling plaster, new kitchen cabinets, new appliances, new paint jobs. Work continues. The scope changes, but work continues. The opportunity to specialize in restoration also comes into play – and with a specialty comes higher rewards (read higher pay). Plenty of contractors are making a great living by being experts in the field of refurbishing old homes.

    And in this scenario there is still plenty of profit to be made for the developer. A properly executed “flip” can yield great returns, but not without greater risks. You never quite know what’s behind that crumbling plaster… Regardless, the scope changes, but the opportunity for profit still exists. And, of course, neighborhood character is usually preserved, and the overall neighborhood property values can rise as a result.

    On the other side of the issue are also several points.

    1) Some old homes are just flat-out beyond the point of being refurbished. This is especially the case in neighborhoods showing recent massive improvements – such as Rosewood around the old Hendley Homes site. Many of these homes were built inexpensively to begin with, and have had little to no attention in decades. In this case, demo and rebuild is often the best (or only) option for all – developer, neighborhood and future purchaser.

    2) Dirt is valuable, and every man always works and lives in his own best interest. If someone comes along and offers him a fair (or above fair) price for his side yard or additional lot, he very well might take advantage of the situation. Along this line, an easy way to make an expensive in-town home more affordable is to sell off the side lot or back yard once you move in. You still have the big house, the good neighborhood – but a much lower mortgage payment.

    Where the negative comes in here is that often these lots aren’t large enough to really support another home. Not every side or back yard can fit 1500-4000sf of heated and cooled space, a 2 (or more) car driveway, a deck and a small yard on. The result is tightly-packed homes, much against the original character of the respective neighborhood.

    So, you have to ask, would Heathwood or Wales Garden be the status neighborhoods they are today if the stately homes did not sit on large lots with enormous hardwoods? How about if they all looked very similar, as many of these “McMansions do?” Probably not. They would just be more big homes built right next to one another, with no parking or yards and cars all over the street. When appraising a home, you never really put a value on trees and “space”, but it exists. For the realtors out there – how often does a client make a comment about the tree-lined street or deep driveway? How about the nice backyard (again, with mature shade trees in it)?

    And to go along with Franklin’s comments (and those of developers) – would Rosewood be what it is today if folks like Chris Dorsey had not invested significant amounts of time and money there? Again, probably not. But, like everything, control, moderation and cooperation of all parties is key.

    All in all, a neighborhood is a peculiar thing. Going against the “Invisible Hand” theory, they can’t just function to their highest and best interest without intervention. If everyone in a neighborhood could do what they wanted, utter chaos would erupt and everyone would probably hate one another. The same concept comes into play here. Not to be repetitive, but the fact that all sides need to work together and compromise is the only solution. Both sides have a vested interest – a developer needs to make a profit, and a homeowner needs to ensure their property value increases – something that might be harder to do with a house completely out of character five feet away. But, with compromise, the unfortunate downside is that both parties can’t get exactly what they want.

    Of course, none of this is new. Anybody remember the old Heathwood Mansion? Remember how it disappeared overnight- just like the old farmhouse on Kilbourne?

  6. If a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass when he jumped.

  7. anonymous,

    WOW!!! What a comment! Were you at the meeting at council chambers? This is so well thought out and so well put, that I don’t know if a comment from me would do it justice!

    I will say one thing, though. Your point about a neighborhood having hardwoods is a good one. Having hardwoods is a big deal. Yes, there are many areas that sell nicely without them, but I think most will agree with us that having hardwoods can keep a REALLY good neighborhood from being GREAT.

  8. anonymous,

    YES! Bullfrog’s ass would bump. Here’s why.

    One of the reasons a bird can fly, is because it’s bones are hollow. The bullfrog’s bones(as far as I know) are not. Therefore, wings would not benefit a bullfrog in the sense of flying, one bit.

    If a bullfrog were to use his wings to glide to a landing (as opposed to flying), this could get interesting. But, given the graceful nature of the bullfrog, I would not think that he would be able to prevent his ass from bumping, if even for a little bit. 🙂

    Contrary thoughts, anonymous?

  9. Franklin-what happenned to your post on Sorensen?

  10. chip,

    I took the Post on Sorensen off because it is old news to most of my people. I thought it was an interesting article myself, but most of my Gamecock “crazies” already knew about all of the content.

    Do you think I should have kept it on there?

  11. Franlin, what are the downtown neighborhoods that sell well without hardwoods? How do hardwoods keep a really good neighborhood from being great? Picture Forest Hills, Shandon , Bellevue, Elmwood without their trees. I just don’t understand where you’re coming from.

  12. anonymous,

    You are right!!

    I just reviewed my comment from the other night. I should have typed, “NOT having hardwoods can keep a REALLY good neighborhood from being GREAT.”

    All of the Columbia neighborhoods that you mentioned would not be what they are today without their hardwoods, no question.

    Thank you!!!

    The trees where we live on Wilmot are AWESOME! It seems like every house has two or three 100 year old oaks between the sidewalk and the road. It feels like I’m driving through a 40 foot tunnel when I’m heading home.

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