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County Council Introduces Consent Agenda

Up-date Given on Animal Shelter Project – 

The Edgefield County Council introduced a new way to conduct their meetings at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 5.  Described by Chairman Dean Campbell as a “good way to expedite business,” Council employed the use of a consent agenda.  Basically a smaller agenda within the bigger agenda, items listed under this are considered non-controversial, will not receive discussion, and are all voted on together in one vote.  However, any Council member may move any item listed under the consent agenda to the regular discussion agenda.

Examples of items placed under this new addition to the meeting include third readings of ordinances and board appointments.  Six such items were on Tues. night’s consent agenda and all received one unanimous vote of approval.  Thus, what would normally take several minutes to cover – a third reading granting easements and rights-of-way for the Hwy 25 project, a third reading allowing Edgefield County Hospital to borrow money, and appointments to four different boards – took only a few seconds, allowing Council to move quickly on to the discussion portion of their agenda.

One of the issues Council discussed was the proposed animal shelter.  Council has budgeted $200,000 for the building of an animal shelter within the County but has had issues with finding a location for the proposed facility.  Weaver Rd. was originally slated to be the shelter’s home, however, that location did not provide enough space to facilitate the two septic systems necessary for the facility.

Administrator Lynn Strom advised Council that after reviewing all County owned property, as well as considering some non-County owned property, a site on Simmons Rd. seems to be the right fit for the project.  The road is county owned and maintained, has trees that will act as a buffer for neighbors, and has already been approved by DHEC to contain two septic systems.

The exact site will rest on 2 acres with the closest home being about 500 feet “as the crow flies.”  As mentioned, there are trees that will act as a buffer, but since this facility will be an enclosed shelter, noise is not expected to be an issue.  This matter did not require a vote of any kind from Council; it was discussed for information purposes only.

One issue involving the animal shelter did require a vote.  That matter had to do with payment of the conceptual plans drawn by architect Steve Jensen.  Those plans have already been received and reviewed by the Sheriff’s Office and will assist in the future drawing of the actual stamp plans.  The payment of this $7,500 bill received unanimous approval.

A public hearing was held on the ordinance creating a Highway Overlay District, however, no public input was given.  This ordinance, which will only apply to new development in the district, received the full approval of Council on its subsequent second reading.

Third reading of an ordinance to amend Chapter 24 involving Land Development was tabled.  In asking for the additional time to peruse this matter, Councilman Rodney Ashcraft said there were “a lot of things in here I’m kind of ify on.”  Councilwoman Genia Blackwell agreed and suggested, due to the importance of the issue, the matter be discussed in a work session.  All of Council was in agreement with this, and a meeting for the work session is to be set in the near future.

Council unanimously passed on first reading an ordinance that will establish conditional use standards for all land in the county but also decided to add this matter to the aforementioned planned work session.  County Attorney Michael Medlock explained a first reading was being sought so that this ordinance will be able to move along with the ordinance to amend Chapter 24.

As was explained to Council, while this ordinance will place conditional uses on all property within the county, it will not prohibit use of the property.  Rather, it will set in place specific requirements for such establishments as bed and breakfast inns, manufactured housing, and firing ranges.  This issue came to Council on recommendation of the Planning Commission.

Council gave Administrator Strom authority to list several vehicles from county surplus for sale at the website GovDeals.  If the items, most of which are not in running condition, do not sell, they will then be sold for scrap.

An ordinance to allow for the allocation of 10% of all future funds from any Fee-In-Lieu of Tax agreements with the county into an economic development account received unanimous approval.  Some of the economic functions that may receive this money were listed as incentives, buying property, upgrading the industrial site, and any other items Council believes might improve the economic development within the county.  This ordinance will not impact existing FILOT agreements and will not affect any funds received by the school district.

The full Council gave approval to the establishment of a special fund designated Sweetwater Community Center.  This fund will be for donations to restore the center, and the money collected through this fund can only be used toward this project.  Additionally, any donations received will be tax deductible.  Councilwoman Betty Butler reminded Council that a similar fund was established to help pay for the playground at Bettis Academy Park.

Council heard from quite a few boisterous citizens during their customary second public input section of their meeting.  One citizen, who questioned Council’s commitment to the children of the county, sparked an intense exchange between Council and other attendees.

This citizen took issue with the $200,000 set aside for the animal shelter and relayed that she did not see any money being set aside for the county’s youth.  However, another citizen’s retort to this led to Finance Director Crystal Coleman advising that $213,000 has been budgeted for the county’s recreation program.  While several avenues for youth involvement, including the various recreation activities and library functions, were cited, Councilwoman Betty Butler reminded all that the needs of the young people within the county do not just fall on the Council.

In her closing comments, Administrator Strom advised Council of a new partnership between EMS and Piedmont Technical College that will allow for residents of the county to take a reduced-rate EMS certification class at the college.  Registration for this program has already begun, and the first class has been filled.

Mrs. Strom also told Council that work has begun on the Kneece Building’s roof and that the Planning Commission is looking for approximately 30 volunteers to help steer the establishment of a non-profit to fund the county’s proposed Rails to Trails project.

Before adjourning, Chairman Campbell reminded Council of the Mar. 21 Budget Workshop and the yet to be scheduled Land Development Work Session.

– Advertiser Staff