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County Council approves property purchase

Posted: November 16, 2017 5:10 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council gave final approval to buy 35 acres in Lugoff during its meeting Tuesday night in the County Government Center.

The agreement calls for the county to buy some 35 acres located along the Wateree River for $425,000. The property is just over the Wateree River Bridge and across U.S. 1 from the public boat landing, which the county also owns.

The expenditure was approved in the FY 2018 budget. The purchase will be paid for with state accommodations tax funds, which can only be used for purchases that relate to tourism promotion.

The county currently has about $560,000 available in ATax funds, according to County Administrator Vic Carpenter.

Councilman Ben Connell, who made the motion to approve the agreement, said he is in favor of the purchase. The fact that the county can add to its green space inventory as well as possibly develop recreational amenities along the river is a major advantage, he said. He noted that the property is one identified by a study conducted by “Eat Smart Move More,” a non-profit group that has developed a plan for connective hiker/biker trails throughout Kershaw County. He also noted that the price has dropped considerably from its original listing price, which was around $650,000-700,000.

Council Chair Julian Burns noted that the property provides Lugoff a park, which it did not have.

Councilman Jimmy Jones voiced several concerns about the property. He noted that the property has been on the market for many years, which means it is unlikely to sell any time soon, so the county does not necessarily have to move on it right now. He also said he was concerned that the county is buying property to promote tourism when there are a number of other unfinished projects that could be paid for with ATax funds.  Jones also noted that just a few years ago, council bought property on Lake Wateree that was supposed to be developed for recreation; nothing has been done with it since, he said.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing for this county council to do right now and I won’t be supporting it,” Jones said. “I think it adds insult to injury to folks who have just received a high tax increase this year.”

Council approved the agreement 5-2, with Councilmen Dennis Arledge, Connell, Tom Gardner and Sammie Tucker Jr. and Chairman Julian Burns voting in favor and Councilmen Bozard and Jones voting against it.  

In other business,  Jones made a motion to request that county staff author a resolution stating council’s objection to the city of Camden’s practice of requiring potential water service customers located outside the city limits, via contractual agreement, to petition for annexation into the city limits when that customer’s property becomes contiguous to the city limits. Jones’ motion came about in response to concerns raised by Linda Franklin Moore, who recently moved to an area just outside the city of Camden and was informed of that requirement when she went to arrange for city water service to her property.

According to a memorandum from County Attorney Ken Dubose, South Carolina state law does provide that a municipality can deliver services such as water and sewer to areas outside its corporate limits via contract and that South Carolina courts have reviewed and upheld such stipulations on multiple occasions.

Jones said he understands the AG’s and state courts opinions are fixed on the subject, but said he believed the county should take a stand on the issue, regardless of whether they could affect change in the practice.

Council voted down Jones’s motion, 2-6, with Bozard and Jones voting in favor and Arledge, Burns, Connell, Gardner and Tucker voting against it.

Also, council approved a proclamation recognizing Nov. 11-19 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in Kershaw County.

Council also heard a brief presentation from Carpenter regarding the county’s recent property reassessment.

Also, in addition to Moore, council heard from five other people during public comment period, including local businessman John Thomas, who voiced concerns regarding the reassessment; Janice Caldwelll, who gave a brief update regarding an upcoming S.C. High School Rodeo Association event this weekend at the S.C. Equine Center; Sidney Butler, who discussed issues regarding lighting on the bridges over the Wateree River; Donnie Supplee, who gave a brief overview of events regarding Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week; and Carol Wells, who voiced concerns regarding the purchase of the 35 acre property in Lugoff.

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