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S-LCOG approves Camden truck route project

SCDOT public hearing set for Jan. 24 at CHS

Posted: January 13, 2012 5:18 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Camden’s having an S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) approved, enforceable truck route is another step closer to becoming a reality.

Camden City Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford announced during council’s Jan. 10 work session that the Santee-Lynches Council of Governments (S-LCOG) board of directors voted unanimously to approve all three segments for the by-pass. Drakeford said the vote also released a remaining $17.2 million of approximately $20 million in state and federal funds for the project.

Drakeford and Councilman Pat Partin noted that the city has sought an approved, enforceable truck route, or bypass, for many years. Drakeford urged her fellow council members, and members of the public in attendance, to attend a SCDOT hearing on the project.

“It will be Jan. 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Camden High School (CHS), so please go out if you have concerns or if you support the project,” Drakeford said. “That will be the time to get input into what the bypass ought to look like.”

She said approximately $3 million has already been spent on studies and other pre-construction work.

Years ago, SCDOT installed signs marking a truck route at the city of Camden’s request. However, SCDOT itself never approved the route as one that could be enforced by law enforcement officers. That route currently includes all of Ehrenclou Drive; West DeKalb Street, from Chesnut Ferry Road Ext. to Springdale Drive; Springdale Drive and Boykin Road (an extension of Springdale Drive); Chesnut Ferry Road Ext.; York Street, from Chesnut Ferry Road Ext. to Mill Street; and Mill Street from York to East DeKalb Street.

According to an SCDOT news release, the proposed project would “facilitate a more efficient flow of traffic, improve pedestrian access and safety, and enhance the livability of downtown Camden, and includes planning for Camden’s proposed Broad Street Road Diet.” SCDOT mentioned in the release -- as Drakeford and Partin did during the Jan. 10 work session -- that the bypass must be completed before the road diet changes can be made.

In the news release, SCDOT stated it will study the existing, unofficial route before proposing alternatives for construction or rehabilitation. The one exception is that only the portion of Springdale Drive from Knights Hill Road to North Broad Street (U.S. 521/601) will be studied for improvement.

“In order to determine the most practicable routes, the alternatives being studied may also include adjacent roadways within these quadrants,” SCDOT officials stated in the release. “The meeting will also provide an opportunity to gather information from the public or any interested organization regarding historic or cultural resources in the area.”

According to proposed truck route maps dated August 2011 on the SLCOG website, Southwest Quadrant improvements may include portions of Old River Road and reconfiguring the intersection of Ehrenclou Road and York Street/Chesnut Ferry Extension.

Meanwhile, four alternatives appear to have been proposed for the Southeast Quadrant of the truck route:

• Maintain the existing route from York Street to Mill Street and up to East DeKalb Street; it was unclear if any improvements would be made.

• Make improvements to York Street between Broad and Rippondon streets and Rippondon Street between York and East DeKalb street, thus pushing the existing truck route further east.

• Move the truck route from York Street south to Bull Street, extending Bull Street east and Mill Street south so they intersect, making improvements to those sections of both streets to accommodate truck traffic up to East DeKalb Street.

• Move the truck route from York Street south to Bull Street, extending Bull Street east and Rippondon Street south so they intersect, and making improvements to those sections of both streets to accommodate truck traffic up to East DeKalb Street.

The SLCOG included the August 2011 maps and related information on its website under a Dec. 22, 2011, update to the project on its homepage.

The 6 p.m. Jan. 24 meeting, which will take place in CHS’ cafeteria/commons area, will feature a drop-in format with displays for viewing and a brief presentation at 6:30 p.m. Those seeking more information about the meeting may call SCDOT Assistant Program Manager Tyke Redfearn at 737-1430 in Columbia. Those with disabilities requiring special accommodations should call Lis Bleasedale at 737-1345.

In other business during the Jan. 10 work session, Jennifer Satterthwaite, outreach and local government coordinator for the S.C. Department of Archives and History, spoke with council about Camden’s attempts to become a certified local government (CLG). Council is working toward reworking the city code and, possibly, creating a board of architectural review to meet CLG designation requirements. Becoming a CLG can make Camden eligible for certain historic preservation-related grants. CLG cities can also participate, Satterthwaite said, in the state’s preservation plan.

She said she went through Chapter 158 of the city code, which sets out the duties of the Camden Historic Landmarks Commission (CHLC), which may become a board of architectural review (BAR).

“There are several issues, two mainly,” Satterthwaite said. “First, you list National Register sites and local historic landmarks. We recommend that you not do that, because the National Register is not a regulatory program.”

Satterthwaite explained that linking the National Registry to city code counters the intent of the national program.

“Secondly, under your ordinance, property owners can opt out, to not be designated, and that is a big issue,” Satterthwaite said.

She explained that a BAR, or BAR-like commission would make the city eligible for CLG status if property owners cannot opt out of being under the commission or board’s jurisdiction.

Satterthwaite went on to discuss with council the ways in which commercial versus residential properties might be handled, the use of a city staff person to act as a liaison or ex-officio member to a BAR, the type of people council should look for to be BAR members, and whether or not a BAR should be concerned over the types of materials historic home owners use for repairs.

Several council members expressed concern over mandatory historic designations for people in historic districts under the CHLC’s or a possible BAR’s jurisdiction. Satterthwaite made it clear, however, that if the city wishes to seek CLG status, participation in a historic district created by the city would have to be mandatory.

“They can come before you to appeal, but they would have to prove their property hasn’t met the criteria (for historic designation). They can’t just not participate,” Satterthwaite said.

Partin said the city would have to “go very carefully” to make sure a new ordinance was very clear and very sensitive to home owners’ rights, especially for those who have owned their properties for long periods of time.

Mayor Jeffrey Graham, however, said he thought it was important to continue the process of seeking CLG status. City Manager Kevin Bronson said it could take some time for staff to come up with a proposal for a new Chapter 158, but that they would work as quickly as possible.

Also during the work session, Bronson discussed the state of ongoing sewer work in the city; Graham mentioned the city is waiting on Kershaw County Council to send back its version of a joint resolution concerning Historic Camden; Polk advised council that the Santee Wateree Regional Transportation Authority has signed a new Medicaid contract with its original broker and hopes to resume Medicaid service Feb. 21; and Graham announced that his State of the City video is now available on the city’s website.

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