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Former theater, cleaners home on city agenda

Posted: November 19, 2010 8:11 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Among the more than a dozen items on Camden City Council’s agenda Tuesday morning will be an executive session to “receive information regarding unsafe building structure.” The item was added to council’s agenda following a work session briefing Thursday by City Manager Kevin Bronson.

Bronson was speaking to council about 529 DeKalb St., calling it a public safety hazard. Historically remembered as the Majestic Theater which may have been built as early as 1890, the building appears in a 1916 Camden postcard. It may have been closed as a theater in 1931 when the Little Theater was opened across the street and converted to a dry cleaning business six years later. Most recently, the building served as the primary location for Hazelwood Cleaners.

“The city building official and the fire inspector have determined an immediate hazard exists due to the potential collapse of the 35-foot-plus walls because of a failing roof,” Bronson told council. “The property owner has been so notified and repeatedly asked to remediate the problem.”

Bronson explained the city is not able to intervene using existing ordinances. Camden’s program of dealing with abandoned and/or hazardous buildings only speaks to dwellings -- places where people live.

“Staff has put pressure on the owner to remediate the problem through conversations between the city attorney and the property owner’s attorney. The owner is on a short time line to begin work to fix the problem, just as soon as he returns from an overseas vacation,” said Bronson.

It was unclear Thursday what the city could do if the owners, still listed as Travis and Alicia McCrory of Charleston, fail to either repair the building or tear it down. That may be the subject of council’s executive session Tuesday. Council could also consider amending the city’s ordinance to include commercial buildings in its hazardous structures program, but the former theater would likely be grandfathered as a preexisting structure.

McCrory purchased the building in 2007 for $63,280 from J.P. Smith Builders, which had purchased the building shortly before that for $46,000. It’s 2007 assessed value was $129,300. The building’s value has since declined. According to the Kershaw County Assessors Office’s online records, the building was last assessed in 2009 at $62,900, $380 less that the McCrory’s paid for it two years earlier.

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include:

• A presentation of an audit of the city’s Fiscal Year 2010 finances.

• Second reading of an ordinance accepting ownership of streets within the Rutledge Place subdivision.

• Second reading of an ordinance authorizing the S.C. Department of Revenue to issue Sunday alcohol sales permits in the city limits of Camden.

• Consideration of a $138,588 bid to Sumer Utilities to replace underground electric service at Pine Creek Subdivision and Sycamore Road and to convert overhead electric service to underground at Kirkwood Town Apartments.

• A proclamation of Dec. 3, 2010, as Arbor Day in Camden.

• Consideration of three façade grants. Two are for the front and rear façades of the DuBose-Robinson law firm at 935 Broad St. The third is for the façade work at 933 Broad St., also owned by attorney Ken DuBose.

Also Tuesday, Councilman Ned Towell will be recognized for his four years of service to the city of Camden. Willard Polk, who was elected to replace Towell, and returning Councilman Walter Long will be sworn in during a 9 a.m. ceremony immediately following Tuesday’s meeting. A reception will be held in Camden Fire Station No. 1.

A portion of Thursday’s work session was spent going over a full report of the FY 2010 audit. Council also received an October 2010 electric rate report, showing that the city has the eighth most expensive rate among those cities which sell electric power. October’s rate per 1,000 kilowatt hours stood at $109.55. The city of Clinton had the highest rate at $123.39 per 1,000 KWHs; the lowest rate belonged to the Greenwood Commission of Public Works at $88.23 per 1,000 KWHs.

Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and is open to the public.

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