March 10, 2021
The Edgefield County Council voted on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 to place a ninety-day moratorium on major subdivisions in Edgefield County. The original motion placed a moratorium on both major and minor subdivisions, but was amended to exclude the minor ones. “I need to put on the record,” said Tommy Paradise, County Administrator, regarding the impact of the decision.
Paradise explained that the County had worked with the Department of Transportation to stop curb cuts. Curb cuts are minor subdivisions that are built along roads. With curb cuts, the developer then builds more homes behind the original homes. Paradise cautioned the Council that the decision could be a legal landmine, but said the Council could do whatever they wanted.
Andrew Marine, the County’s attorney explained moratoriums must be limited in duration and clear as to why they are being imposed. After the original ninety days of the moratorium expires any extension must be voted on. Any additional time for a moratorium requires another motion and vote by Council.
Councilperson Dean Campbell supported the motion and said the moratorium would provide time to get community input and address issues. Councilperson Tiffani Ireland said the moratorium would send the message that the County Government is listening and trying to the get the Comprehensive Plan and the Land Management Ordinance (LMO) right.
Councilperson Scott Cooper, Chair, made the points that the decision could be a hardship for those who need to sell land for financial or medical reasons. He stated the Council is listening, but the decision could send the wrong message to companies considering Edgefield County as a place to open a business or industry.
In other business the Council voted for the Planning Commission to review the wording changes to the Comprehensive Plan made in 2019 on its third reading. Chairperson Cooper explained the original wording of the Comprehensive Plan was in regards to lot size averages for a large geographical area.
Cooper noted that development would be impacted by sewage availability, the land that would perk, and topography of a large percentage of the County. He stressed the change in the wording clarified the desire for a diversity of housing where utilities and topography made that possible.
Campbell requested the Planning Commission provide the recommendation to return the Comprehensive Plan to its original wording by the Council’s next meeting.
Councilperson Jackie Kennion addressed those in attendance and apologized for her vote changing the Comprehensive Plan’s wording on its third reading in 2019. She stated she believed growth was inevitable and she is listening to constituents, but implored everyone to be respectful when communicating.
During the Public comment portion of the meeting sixteen concerned citizens addressed the council. Twelve of the speakers were in favor of the moratorium and four were opposed.
Stephen Gilchrist, South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce Chairman, addressed the County Council about Opportunity Zones. Councilmember Dean Campbell invited Gilchrist to speak. Opportunity Zones were created by a bill sponsored by Senator Tim Scott. Opportunity Zones provide incentives for capital gains to be invested in struggling communities for tax credits. Edgefield County has one Opportunity Zone and three Incentive Zones that were established around the three towns three years ago. The tax credits allow capital gains to be invested in low income communities for work force development, affordable housing, building and upgrading infrastructure, investing in startup businesses. Capital gains taxes are forgiven for any investments made in the zones for over ten years. The zones allow the County Government to lease land and offer tax abatements to encourage development.
An audit report of the County’s finances was provided by Grant Davis, a partner at Mauldin and Jenkins. The Edgefield County Government was issued a clean or unmodified opinion with no disagreements or difficulties. by the auditor. Davis explained to Council that the audit was later than normal this year due to Edgefield County Hospital’s audit was late and not a reflection of the Edgefield County Government. He explained the Hospital’s audit was late due to its transition with Self Memorial
There were no consent items on the agenda. The two-year extension for the Old Manor House was approved on its third reading and changing a property on Rabbit trail to General Agriculture was approved on its second reading.
The Council voted to reject entering into a contract with Medical College of Georgia for a Medical Control Officer. There was discussion regarding the qualifications of applicants from Self Memorial and Medical College of Georgia. Tommy Paradise said he would negotiate a contract with the applicant from Self Memorial. The Council plans to vote to fill the position in its April meeting. The applicant from Self Memorial is Board eligible for Emergency Medicine but is not Board Certified presently.
The Council passed a Fair Housing Resolution declaring April Fair Housing Month. Notices will run in the local paper which is a requirement in the regulations
The Council passed a non-host agreement with Aiken County for an Industrial Park. As a non-host, Edgefield County will receive one percent in lieu of taxes.
An agreement was formalized for the Town of Trenton to provide office space, furniture, and broadband for Generac to assist them with the transition and opening of its manufacturing facilities in the County’s Industrial Park. The expenses are covered through the Industrial Park contingency fund.
The Edgefield County Government is contracting with an outside vendor to mail postcards to all property owners informing them about how to obtain information about the County’s LMO (Land Maintenance Ordinance) and meeting dates provided for citizen input. Councilperson Campbell requested the opportunity to review correspondences addressed from Council prior to their distribution. Councilperson Ireland requested that the notices inform land owners how to review the LMO who do not have internet access. The cost of the postcards is $12,075 and is paid for through the County Council Contingency Fund.