North Augusta, SC (WJBF)- The city of North Augusta is experiencing a burst of growth with lots of new development going up near Exit 5 off I-20.

Many people are taking to social media, criticizing city council over this fast paced growth.

NewsChannel 6 reached out to City Councilman Eric Presnell to find out how local government fits into growth.

“Our main thing is zoning. That’s how we can control it. Some developers may come in to an area that’s predominantly R-10 or R-14 and want R-5. We have controls over that,” explained Presnell. “However, if something is already zoned as an R-5, and someone wants to put town homes, there’s not a lot we can do to stop it from our stand point.”

Over the last year there have been several proposed developments for North Augusta.
Some never made it in front of the council while others, like Highland Springs and BlueGrass Place, were approved.

“So, the Highland Springs Elementary and middle school has just broken ground, so hopefully that will be ready. Because I know that is one of the complaints- we don’t have enough room for children. Yes, this will alleviated a lot of the issues we have in our 4 elementary schools and our two middle schools,” Presnell said.

The city council doesn’t control when and where schools are built. That is up to the Aiken County School District. A district representative says a demography study is underway and those results will help them decide if a new high school is needed.

Another thing the city council doesn’t control? What businesses decide to make their home in North Augusta.

“People are clamoring for chains. We have all the fast food chains. Yeah, it would be nice to have something other than Ruby Tuesday’s, but we do not control them coming in. Now if somebody were to approach us, yeah, we’ll try to work with them to make sure it works for everybody involved,” said Presnell.

And as much as folks take to social media to protest growth in North Augusta, Presnell said if a town doesn’t progress, things can go downhill.

“People say we don’t need any more development. I would tell them– take a drive to Hilton Head. This is what no development looks like. Look at Allendale. Look at Hampton. Look at Varnville. Look at Yemasee. They’re dying towns.”

Presnell said he’s always happy to sit down and hear the concerns of anyone living in North Augusta. He explained that the best way to have your concerns heard is to speak at city council meetings.

Photojournalist: Will Baker.