All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
A petition, by EC citizens, is being circulated throughout the County seeking to reverse a last-minute change to the Comprehensive Plan by County Council. Citizens now see the serious impact those changes have on their quality of life.
Myths and truths for the Comprehensive Plan is the reason for the Citizen Petition. EC Citizens spent over a year attending, participating in community meetings and providing input for this update. The last one was in 2015 and is required to only be fully revamped every 10 years (2025). The plan, as presented and recommended by the consultant and the planning commission, was widely supported by the citizens during the 3 readings. After the public hearing had closed and during the 3rd reading the wording was significantly changed. The citizens nor 2 of the county council members were aware of what was coming. The myth that has been spread is that citizens are against growth. The truth is throughout this process and even as early as 2012 citizens stated we did not want high density growth to consume our county and we did not want to be congested like Columbia County. We stated we wanted quality, planned growth. As early as 2012 citizens held meetings, well attended by citizens, administrators, legislative representatives, county council members and others.
Citizens had little understanding of how seriously it would impact our County after the densities were removed from the zoning map and theses words changed. It became clear when the first high density subdivision of 445 townhomes was approved in an already congested area and the next with 212 housing units quickly followed. In rapid succession more inappropriate applications are coming monthly. Focus has shifted from what citizens want and support to smoothing the way for developers to bring in as many rooftops as possible. People are being told to get the amenities they want this must be done. The truth is the high-density subdivisions are being approved in places where those amenities already exist. This is exactly why the citizens called for quality, planned growth.
The first statement Mr. Ford, consultant, made when presenting his process, was quite clear. He stated Edgefield County should focus on its uniqueness. Throughout this process the citizens felt confident in what was being presented was exactly what he and his team were doing. What took place during the County Council approval process and now the reason for the citizen petition,came as a shock. We have been told repeatedly that the Comprehensive Plan is just a guide. Our group researched, talked with lawyers, judges, legislators and others and confirmed that is not the case. The comprehensive plan is the law and that is what holds teeth. The Zoning ordinance which is being completed now must follow that law.
To give citizens back their voice and put us on aquality, planned course, the law allows citizens to petition for what we supported. Signing events are being held and businesses have petitions forregistered Edgefield County voters. It only takes a few moments. We will continue this process until we have all the signatures required to give the decision back to the citizens to decide what is acceptable. Remember it is not about no growth, stopping growth, it IS about quality, sustainable growth for the whole County.
Sites for signing petition: Patriot’s Smokehouse, Th-Sat.; Fancy Pants, Trenton, Th-Fri-Sat.; Bay’s Firearms, Belvedere. Anyone who wants more information, and to sign the petition can contact us or attend one of the events.