A Greenwood County, SC, man will have the chance to rebuild his auto body shop on a split-zoned property along Old Mount Moriah Road—though not without some assurances that he’ll follow planning guidelines.
On Tuesday, June 4, the County Council voted 4-2 in favor of a request by Kendrick Williams to overturn an earlier decision that made his .6-acre parcel on 308 Old Mount Moriah Road exclusively residential.
Until a fire struck the site in November 2018, it had been bisected into commercial and residential. Williams used the unique designation to run his Lil Hawk’s Body Shop.
In February, the council voted to support a Planning Commission decision to keep the property solely residential, but Williams asked for relief, saying the business was his livelihood.
County officials were swayed enough to reconsider, but told Williams he needed to improve relations with his neighbors—several of whom complained about noise, foot traffic and blight.
“I reached out to all the neighbors again and I’ve been getting a response they’re happy with,” Williams said, adding that he installed a privacy fence along the perimeter. “I just want to get my business back.”
Dusty Steele, a mechanic and long-time business associate of Williams, said Lil Hawk’s was an honest operation with a good reputation in the industry.
“This property has been a body shop since the early 70s. We’ve always tried to respect the neighbors as much as possible. I’ve towed cars for him in the middle of the night and I’ve actually turned my lights out. That’s the man’s livelihood and he really needs to be able to put his shop back up,” Steele said. “It’s a tragic thing that happened—it hurt his income and his family.”
Steve Brown, County Council chairman, said he drove past Williams’ property shortly before the meeting and had concerns about several vehicles in a state of disrepair visible from the road.
“I personally want to vote to give you back this property as commercial use, but I also want you to help us out and I think you still have some work to do,” he said. “There are some clunkers that are still sitting down there. A body shop and a junkyard are two different things.”