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City acquiring more Commerce Alley easements

Posted: February 14, 2014 3:01 p.m.
Updated: February 15, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The city of Camden is acquiring some more easements along Commerce Alley to assist with a water line project. Camden City Council unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance that was added to Tuesday night’s meeting agenda on Monday. A copy of the ordinance was not immediately made available.

At Councilman Walter Long’s suggestion, City Manager Mel Pearson explained the project -- and the fact that the city doesn’t have all the easements it needs, at least not yet.

“We are in the process, as you know, of putting in a 6-inch water main down Commerce Alley, replacing the old 2-inch water line that serves all the buildings that back up Commerce Alley between DeKalb and Rutledge streets,” Pearson said. “The next step will be to repair and renovate the wastewater line that runs down Commerce Alley as well. It was our intent to connect taps for all those business owners and property owners so they could hook into that new wastewater system that we installed.”

Pearson noted Tuesday that there is some construction at Commerce Alley and DeKalb Street that will require sprinkler systems, hopefully for apartments.

“That’s what prompted us to do this a little sooner than we had originally planned. We’re doing it within the budget for the water and wastewater lines,” he said.

Pearson said once the city is finished with those taps, city staff will come back to council to consider another easement for paving that may be appropriate for that area.

“The paving we have planned at this time will be publically-owned property on Commerce Alley,” he said. “We do not want to have to cut that pavement to reinstall taps … this is for the property owners as well. We’ll ask the city to maintain that future, new asphalt we want to put down and some minimal landscaping appropriate to that area.”

In terms of the number of easements, however, Pearson explained that the city has signed the easements it needs, but that three property owners have yet to sign them. In addition, there is one property owner he said is not interested in participating.

“It’s the property at 1011 Broad St. and there’s some concerns, I think, about what we are going to do on the city property next door. The offer to enhance the plumbs there was rejected,” he said, but assured council it would not affect the project as a whole and that it is on schedule.

Pearson noted that the city made a tap for TenEleven Galleria when it was first developed and a 6-inch line was extended from Rutledge Street to the back of the building. For the new project, the city tied into that line, extending it to DeKalb Street. Pearson said that connection was made Monday, essentially completing that stage of the project.

“We do have to go back and make those individual taps that will serve each building with much better water service than they have now,” he said.

The three other easements have yet to be signed, but will be, Pearson said. One, he said, is in a foreclosure process but may be resolved soon. The second has not been signed because the owner is in Atlanta; Pearson said that owner does plan to sign the easement. In the case of the third property, which he described as being at the corner of Commerce Alley and DeKalb Street, a trustee has agreed the easement should be signed, but has not been able to access the owner to get the signature.

Going back to TenEleven Galleria, Pearson said the owners there “may have no need” to grant the easement since they already have an adequate water supply. However, they might want to tap into the new wastewater line in the future, he said.

Mayor Tony Scully noted that the city is gifting the taps to the property owners. Pearson called it a “development incentive.”

“(This is) for the very central district of Camden for you to do this and supply them with an opportunity to grow those businesses,” he said.

Councilman Willard Polk said it “had to be done” because the original 2-inch main wasn’t sufficient to support the needed sprinkler systems if owners choose to create residences in the area.

Pearson confirmed that was the case, but said there was more to it as well.

“This is an incentive to continue down that path,” Pearson said. “It’s there because we don’t want to put some nice asphalt and then have to go dig it up again.”

He added that Camden wants to make sure they will have the proper taps in place for the former Maxway lot now owned by the city so it can be developed to its “fullest potential.”

“If that includes the development of a hotel or some other kind of complex that’s three stories tall, it’ll be OK,” Pearson said.

Council also unanimously voted Tuesday night on:

• second and final reading of an ordinance amending the city’s master bond ordinance;

• second and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the refinancing of a 2004 public utility bond by issuing up to $10 million in new series 2014 bonds -- the low bidder is First Tennessee Bank at a rate of 2.19 percent for total gross savings during a 10-year period of $1.428 million;

• second and final reading of an ordinance amending the city’s agreement with the South Carolina State Revolving Fund so that the city no longer needs to maintain a debt service reserve fund for money borrowed to construct its new wastewater treatment plant; and

• first reading of an ordinance that will make primarily “housekeeping” changes to Chapter 152 of the city code of ordinances to conform with state and federal regulations.

Council also held a public hearing on updates to the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Council voted to open the hearing 3-1 with Polk voting against and Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford absent. Polk felt that, due to inclement weather, council should postpone the hearing in order to give the public a better chance to voice any concerns. Other council members and Pearson all pointed out that adequate notice was given and that the public can still make any comments when council takes up first and second reading authorizing the changes at subsequent council meetings.

No one spoke during the public hearing.

Earlier in the meeting, council recognized the newly crowned Miss Camden and Miss Camden Teen winners. Mayor Scully began by reading a proclamation honoring Miss Camden Teen 2014 Alexa Williams, a sophomore at North Central High School. The proclamation notes that Williamson is actively involved in her school and community and plans to attend Anderson University to become an obstetrician. Her platform focuses on the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, “a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives,” according to its website.

Scully then read the proclamation for Miss Camden 2014 Allison Sanders, a graduate of Lugoff-Elgin High School who holds a bachelor of arts degree in business administration from Emmanuel College and is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration from South University. Sanders’ platform is “Pathway to the Future.”

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