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KCC passes tower amendment on first reading

Posted: August 28, 2014 6:41 p.m.
Updated: August 29, 2014 6:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council took the first step towards amending a county ordinance regulating communications towers at its meeting Tuesday. Council unanimously passed first reading of the amendment, which was discussed at council’s Aug. 12 meeting.

Council approved an ordinance in Oct. 2013, but residents have voiced concerns over not being notified properly when a tower is planned near their property. The amended ordinance would provide notification to adjacent property owners with ample time for them to protest the construction with the planning and zoning board.

As she did on Aug. 12, Planning and Zoning Director Carolyn Hammond explained that property owners within a “tower notification zone” -- an area equal to the height of the tower, plus 25 percent -- would be notified of its proposed construction. A 400-foot tower, for example, would have a tower notification zone of 500 feet.

“Any property owner having an inhabitable dwelling within that area is notified by certified letter and has the opportunity to oppose the tower,” Hammond said.

Councilman Jimmy Jones said in Oct. 2013 that better notification should be provided for neighbors of proposed towers and thanked Hammond and her staff for working to included that in the ordinance.

“This is a very good move for the citizens of Kershaw County and I want to thank this body for revisiting this, and let’s move forward in the right direction,” Jones said.

Council also approved a reduced millage request from the Kershaw County School District (KCSD). Kershaw County Board of School Trustees Chair Mara Jones said the district asked for less than what it originally requested during the county’s budget process in May and June.

“In 2008, we provided $159,000 just for library books. First grade really begins to read with books. Unfortunately, first graders chew on books and those have to be replaced. So we do replace a lot of them, plus kids still use the library for periodicals as well as other information where we don’t solely use technology,” Mara Jones said.

She also said some funds will be allocated for stipends for national board certified teachers and for supplement pay for sports coaches. Council approved the request by a 5-1 vote, with Councilman C.R. Miles Jr. voting against and Chairman Gene Wise absent. 

Council also unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance that would allow businesses and shopping areas to have larger signs. Current regulations limit freestanding signs for individual businesses to 32 square feet. The new ordinance would permit signs up to 40 square feet for single businesses and up to 50 square feet for multiple businesses such as shopping centers.

Council unanimously approved first reading of an ordinance approving the county’s tax millage rate for the fiscal year that started July 1. Council also passed first reading of an ordinance changing the rules of how council conducts business during its meetings.

“This is nothing but transparency,” Councilman Jones said. “What I’m asking here in changing our rules of order is that the chairman -- we are very fortunate to be one of four counties that elects our chairman at large … however, you have someone coming on board that has never run a government meeting and this sets some guidelines,” Jones said. “When he calls for a vote, we will have to raise our hands, then he will verbally call each of our names out as to how we vote so it can be recorded. That’s transparency and it goes on the record.”

Council also passed first reading on an ordinance that would allow the county to close or demolish derelict dwellings deemed unfit for human habitation. County Attorney Ken Dubose said the ordinance is based on a state law.

“It has a mechanism whereby you have to make a determination and give notice and give people an opportunity to protest, appeal. It has a very rigorous procedure,” DuBose said. “Ultimately, what happens is, the county has the building torn down and it adds the cost of having it torn down to the ad valorem tax bill.”

Council also approved two proclamations. The first recognizes the value of amateur radio operators in the county, especially during times of emergency when other methods of communication may be rendered inoperable. The other proclamation declared September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

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