"The issue here is the definition of the word 'kitchen," says Aiken Councilman Dick Dewar.
So, what does that have to do with land like this stretch off Silver Bluff Road, and with residential property values? Some city council members and property owners say, a lot.
"It's the essence of the whole subject, whether you have a kitchen or a kitchenette," Dewar says.
"It would absolutely transform us from a well-defined, well-established density limit to an almost unlimited density limit," says homeowner Preston Rahe.
How does that work? The Aiken Planning Commission has suggested changing the definition of dwelling unit - under the proposed definition, a "dwelling unit" would have to have a full kitchen. Having a kitchenette would not qualify as a dwelling unit. That's important because there is a cap on the density of dwelling units - but not as stringent of a cap on non-dwelling units:
"With unlimited density you can imagine what that would do to property values," Dewar says.
"The impact could be you would have a high rise in residential areas," Councilman Reggie Ebner says.
Those involved say there would also be another undesirable change.
"It wants to eliminate density requirements for hotels, motels, and homeless shelters," Rahe adds.
Ebner emphasizes that the city supports development, but he says they believe commercial development belongs in commercial areas.
This issue started with a proposed assisted living facility on this site - which is near Woodside Plantation, but leaders say the change would be city-wide.
"It affects all areas, north, south, east, and west," Ebner says.
And residents say they're ready for a fight:
"I'm hoping tonight is going to end it, but I'm prepared to continue fighting it down to my last breath and my lawyer's last dollar, okay," Rahe says.
We did reach out to the planning commission to get their side of the story and why they believe these changes would be good for Aiken - but they only do interviews once the city council meets.
Documents the planning commission attached to the agenda, however, indicate that they believe this proposed change in code would put Aiken more in line with national standards and those of similar cities, like Charleston..
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