The Court held that because the County chose to employ the planned development process provided by the Enabling Act in adopting a rezoning ordinance but failed to meet its statutory requirements, the ordinance rezoning property from agricultural to PD was invalid.
Petitioner-property owners challenged the County’s ordinance which rezoned property from agricultural to a PD district. The circuit court ruled the ordinance invalid and that the property should retain its agricultural classification. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the rezoning to PD was proper. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, concluding that the property should retain its agricultural classification.
The County’s 1999 comprehensive plan, created under the 1994 Enabling Act, designated Wadmalaw Island an agricultural area where preferred land use was to preserve the rural character of the community, to primarily support farming, and to secondarily support residential development. The County enacted zoning regulations under the Enabling Act in 2001 to implement its comprehensive plan. In June 2003, respondent property owners applied to have their agricultural property rezoned to a PD district. The County adopted an ordinance rezoning the property in February 2004, reducing the minimum lot size from three acres to one acre. Petitioner property owners brought this declaratory judgment action, claiming the ordinance was invalid because the County violated the Enabling Act and zoning regulations.
The Supreme Court concluded that the ordinance did not meet the parameters for a Planned Development district as set out at S.C. Code Ann. § 6-29-720, which requires a PD be comprised of “housing of different types and densities and of compatible commercial uses . . .” and “is characterized by a unified site design for a mixed use development.” The only effect of the ordinance was to allow Respondent property owners to reduce the lot sizes for the property in order to avoid the density restrictions of the agricultural classification. The ordinance did not provide for the housing specified in the statute and did not create a new mixed-use development. It also did not meet the PD requirements of S.C. Code Ann. § 6-29-740, requiring that PD plans “encourage innovative site planning for residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial developments.” The essence of a PD is to provide mixed use.
The Court agreed with the circuit court that although S.C. Code Ann. § 6-29-720(C) allows counties to use other techniques if they choose, the County chose to employ the statutory PD process, and having invoked that technique could not arbitrarily fail to meet its requirements. The ordinance was invalid because it did not meet the PD requirements of the Enabling Act.