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County Council Tackles Long Agenda Election Night: Accepts Deed of old Cooper's School

By Anne Waits
web posted November 9, 2012

EDGEFIELD – The regularly scheduled Edgefield County Council meeting was held Tuesday night with a quorum of four out of five Council members present. Council member Norman Dorn was absent. Following the call to order and approval of the agenda and last month's meeting minutes, CAST Coordinator Prevention Specialist Allen Easler, with Cornerstone, was supposed to have spoken to Council but did not appear.

Council Chairman Dean Campbell moved on to the monthly financial reports for September and agenda/minutes from several committee and board meetings. A public hearing of Ordinance 11-12-652, an ordinance authorizing the execution and delivery of a fee agreement by and between Edgefield County and Bondex, Inc providing for a payment of a fee in lieu of taxes and other related matters, was opened up but after no comments, Council moved on to the business of second reading of the ordinance.

Brad Willingham, CEO of Bondex, was present. This ordinance is an agreement between the County and Bondex stating that Bondex will invest $6,400,000 over five years and plans to create 13 new full-time jobs in Edgefield County. In return, the County will enter into an agreement providing a fixed millage rate and a six percent assessment ration for the project for a term of 20 years. The motion was approved unanimously on second reading, with Council member Willie Bright making the motion to accept and Council member Genia Blackwell seconding.

Council then approved unanimously on third reading Ordinance 12-13-654, an ordinance which amends Section 24-287 of the Edgefield County Code relating to the Edgefield County Board of Zoning Appeals. The state law regarding Board of Zoning Appeals has changed since the ordinance was enacted and the amendment presented is based on changes in the state law. The ordinance also includes a change in the filing fee for a zoning appeal from $100 to $250 per appeal due to the costs associated with the appeal process. Blackwell made the motion and Council member Rodney Ashcraft seconded.

Also approved on third reading was Ordinance 12-13-655, an amendment to the building code ordinance found in Section 8-1 of the Edgefield County Code in order to comply with the state law related to building code administration. This ordinance adopts the building code that is required by the State of South Carolina. motion was made by Ashcraft and seconded by Blackwell. It was opposed by Bright.

Consideration of third reading of Ordinance 12-13-656, an ordinance establishing standards and criteria for the number, location, design, construction and maintenance of driveways, acceleration/deceleration lanes and inter-parcel connections in Edgefield County, was then introduced. It was explained that the Highway Access Plan is meant to improve highway safety in the county. The access management will only apply to new developments and renovations or expansions that exceed 50 percent of the apprised value of the development. This plan was approved by the Planning Commission at their July meeting and reviewed by SCDOT.

Developer Tim Campbell had already spoken during the public comments portion of the meeting and stated that the biggest advantage developers have in the county is that they are not "overburdened wit regulations." "This county has been and remains basically rural," he said. "We don't need to become the city of Aiken, the city of North Augusta or oven the County of Aiken," he said. "We hope to maintain that with review and approval as it becomes necessary." He added they had already addressed somewhat his biggest concern.

Driveways will be wider and that will remedy roads like Highway 25 and Sweetwater Raod where you have to stand on your brakes making a turn into a 15 foot driveway and you stand a chance of being rear-ended, he said.

After some discussion, the ordinance was approved unanimously with the motion being made by Ashcraft and Blackwell seconding.

Third reading was given to Ordinance 12-13-657, an ordiance to revise and amend Chapter 30 "Manufactured Housing" of Edgefield County Code of Ordinances. This section related to manufactured housing is being amended per state law. It does not change the practice that is already in place, said Chairman Campbell. It amends the definition of a manufactured home as well as names the Tax Assessor's Office as the licensing agent for manufactured housing. The ordinance was aproved unanimously/
Second reading was given to Ordinance 12-13-659 to revise and amend Division 5, "Hospital Board," of Chapter 2, Administration, of the Edgefield County Code of Ordinances. The terms, provisions and procedures applicable to the Edgefield County Hospital are currently governed by county as well as state legislation. This ordinance takes the county provisions and state provisions and combines them into one document in order to clarify the hospital procedures. It does not change the practice currently in place. This was also approved unanimously.
In new business, Council heard from Laurie Smith, CPA, of Elliott, Davis, LLP, regarding the annual external audit report for FY 2011-2012. There were no major findings or comments in the audit. Originally the county had anticipated using $318,450 from reserves; however due to positive revenue trends, it ended up adding $74,575 to the fund balance.

Smith congratulated Council by stating, "Many counties are not able to maintain a fund balance in this economy. This shows exceptional control of expenditures." After going over several items, she said the County is in "excellent financial health." Council approved the audit.

Council approved rescheduling the Jan. 1, 2013 meeting to Jan. 8 (second Tuesday night) to allow for the New Year's holiday.

Council also approved the holiday schedule, which contains 12 holidays and one personal day) for the County. It follows the same pattern as previous years and is similar to the state holiday schedule.

After several concerns were addressed, Council voted unanimously to accept the Sweetwater Community Center Deed. The Community Center members agreed to deed to the County a parcel of land and building located on Sweetwater Road near the Cooper Place subdivision. The building was once a one-room school and has historical significance. The County had a Phase I environmental study conducted and no hazardous chemicals or waste were found on the property. It was noted that the building is in fairly good shape and Blackwell stated that plans were to renovate it and use it for some type of meetings.

Council then approved unanimously an extension of the Calliham Lease. As part of the purchase agreement for the Kneece Building, Calliham's Furniture leased part of the building from the County for three years. This lease expires in December. Mr Calliham has requested an extension and has agreed to pay $1,200 per month to remain in the space, The Capital Improvement Plan calls for the County to begin renovating the building in FY 2013-2014. So that the County can move forward with renovations when ready, Calliham has agreed to a one-year lease with an option for the County to terminate the lease with a 90-day notice.

Council passed first reading of Ordinance 12-13-660, with Councilman Bright opposing. This ordinance amends Chapter 24, Land Development of the Edgefield County Code of Ordinances in certain limited regards.

Roger LeDuc, with the Planning Commission, addressed the Council on this matter. The Planning Commission has been going over the Land Development Codes for several months and have recommended several revisions to the code. The changes include combining several sections of the County code into one, as well as revising some of the actual regulations found in the codes.

Administrator Lynn Strom reminded Council of a Veterans Day Program to be held Sunday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m. on the Town Square; announced an opening for a position in the Clerk of Court's office; informed Council that a Strategic Plan update meeting was held last Thursday night and updates will be brought before Council at the December meeting; announced that SCDOT has requested easements from the County for each road the County owns regarding the widening of Highway 25 and that this will be taken up at the December meeting.
Following an executive session where no action was taken, the meeting was adjourned.

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