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KCC looks to regulate roadside vendors

Posted: March 1, 2012 5:28 p.m.
Updated: March 2, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council continued its efforts to regulate “roadside vendors” during Tuesday’s meeting.

Council unanimously voted 6-0, with Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. absent, to initiate a Planning and Zoning Commission analysis of the best way to alleviate the number of small, transient businesses locating along U.S. 1 in Lugoff.

County Administrator Vic Carpenter said the vote to initiate the study will establish a “starting point” for the commission to begin examining an effective method of regulating the vendors.

Councilman Jimmy Jones, who opened discussion of the topic at council’s Feb. 23 work session, said the commission should consider all options, but noted his objection to establishing a business license to regulate any roadside vendors.

“I think it has been said that when industry looks at us, one of the first things they really enjoy when looking at our county is that there is no business fee structure. We need to think about that,” Jones said.

He indicated he would like to see any potential regulations enforced via zoning.

“This is just as easily enforced by zoning as it is by a license,” he said. “I’m going to look out for our small brick-and-mortar businesses. I am not against people having the opportunity to start up a business, but let’s have fair competition practices in Kershaw County.”

Councilman Tom Gardner, who noted at the meeting that he’s actually an owner of a brick-and-mortar business, said the creation of a business license fee should be the “way to go” for regulating the vendors. Gardner owns Sports Connection, a screen printing and trophy business located in the Dusty Bend area of Camden.

 “It (the license fee) should not be structured like the city’s where it’s based on gross sales, but should be a nominal fee that recognizes true businesses that do have places of business, not people who walk in and are set up on the side of the street.”

He said establishing a license fee would also help to create a countywide recognition and protection of more legitimate businesses. He noted those businesses are different than the vendors who simply “pull up in a truck, sell for one day, and take thousands of dollars without ever paying a penny worth of taxes.”

Jones said he appreciated the difference of opinion with Gardner and recommended county staff research both possibilities.  

Councilman Bobby Gary asked Carpenter and County Attorney Ken DuBose about the number of recently recorded zoning violations and DuBose indicated about three zoning violations were currently pending. 

DuBose also noted the penalties associated with zoning infractions and business licenses are quite different.

“A code violation is a misdemeanor, it’s a criminal violation. For a business license, it’s a civil matter. A license is a privilege, not a right,” DuBose said. “When you have a criminal violation, you get into the U.S. Constitution, due process, right to protection, right to a jury trial, all of the above, whereas with a business license, since it’s a privilege and not a right, you can revoke it administratively.”    

Council Chairman Gene Wise said he would be anticipating an analysis from the commission consisting of both the advantages and disadvantages of creating a business license fee and any type of potential zoning ordinance. He also said he would like to alter the so-called “grandfathering” language of the current zoning statute.

Grandfather clauses refer to statutes that allow the operator of a business to be exempt from restrictions on use if the business continues to function as it was when the ordinance was adopted.

Carpenter indicated it had been previously mentioned to change the grandfathering language from 365 days to 30 days.

Councilman Stephen Smoak said any type of change regarding licensing or zoning would involve three readings of an ordinance. Consequently, he indicated council should wait to hear the findings of the commission.  

Council also unanimously voted to approve:

• Third reading of an ordinance rezoning property on Smyrna Road in Elgin from a residential designation to a rural commercial designation;

• The appointment of Joe Herlong to the Kershaw County Economic Development Board for a two-year term;

• A resolution honoring Roy Brazell Sr.; and

•A resolution honoring former interim county administrator Frank Broom.

Council also welcomed John Henderson, director of risk management services for the S.C. Association of Counties, who honored Kershaw County Safety Manager Rob Keasler with an award for his job performance. 

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