Several individuals appeared before Orangeburg County Council requesting a halt to the rezoning of the Holly Hill Golf Club property that would allow the development of a single-family subdivision.
"I beg you please do the right thing and do not rezone that golf course," Co-chair of Planning and Zoning for Holly Hill Justin VanBogart told Orangeburg County Council during its regularly scheduled June 6 meeting. "It is in the public interest to keep one of the very few recreational things we have in this town."
Council was scheduled to give second reading to rezone the golf club property from forest agriculture to residential general.
American Star Development SC, LLC of Sullivan's Island has requested the two parcels making up the Holly Hill Golf Club at 9159 Old State Road be rezoned.
The parcels are a combined 93.59 acres. The property is about one mile southeast of the Town of Holly Hill.
ASC has said the company has no specific plans for the property at the moment. It is exploring zoning opportunities to better determine future development plans.
County planning officials say the owner has expressed his intentions to close the golf course.
Several attempts to reach the owner of the property, as listed on the rezoning application, have been unsuccessful.
County attorney D'Anne Haydel said the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission notified the county it has two objections with rezoning the property, specially due to safety and noise concerns.
Haydel noted the SCAC is a governmental entity and needs a hearing.
"There is a statute that indicates we need to get back with the Aeronautics Commission within 30 days with a line-by-line response to why it is safe and why it won't be noisy," Haydel said.
In light of the new information, council unanimously voted to table the matter and to send it back to the County Planning Commission for further study on the SCAC concerns.
Prior to the council's vote, VanBogart noted with the number of housing developments planned -- the town is going to grow from 700 homes to 3,000 homes in the next two years -- there will be a need to have recreational opportunities for residents coming into the area.
"We want to keep our golf course," VanBogart said. "It is very much integral to our town."
VanBogart said while the town owned the golf course for years, it has been sold to a private developer who has "plans to tear it (golf course) down and make it homes."
"I am all about private property rights," VanBogart said, but noted there has not been full disclosure from the property's ownership about intentions for the property. "We were all caught completely blindsided."
John Hill, speaking on behalf of his son, John Paul, who keeps a plane at the airport, says the airport is a "gem."
"I think there is hardly any left in South Carolina that are a grass strip and private," Hill said. "This is going back to the past in America when pilots flew out of grass strips."
Hill said the airport is a great educational tool for young generations and has flight opportunities for school-aged children as well as instruction on airplane mechanics as part of the national Experimental Aircraft Association.
"It is a page of history that is going to disappear," Hill said. "I think it is a unique distinction. That airport can lead to so many things."
Robert Gootman also expressed his support of the Holly Hill Airport.
"There are too many airports that close and Holly Hill has a very unique asset in that airport and it will grow along with the community," Gootman said, noting the airport can be used in cases of emergency, training of pilots and recreational uses. "If that golf course turns into a housing development, that airport will be shut down. It will be too dangerous to land airplanes there because you will have houses right there in front of the flight path."
Ken Mackey also has an airplane at the Holly Hill airport.
"It will close the airport," Mackey said. "You can't have airplanes coming 200 feet over the house."
Mackey said subdivisions alongside the airport are possible.
He has contacted the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association national group, which is putting a package together to possibly turn the airport into an air park where houses alongside the airport have hangars.
"There are no hangars available from Holly Hill to the coast to hangar your aircraft," Mackey said. "There is demand there for this type of development ... and keep the asset as an airport."