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Council passes second reading on nuisance ordinance

Posted: April 17, 2017 5:57 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council passed second reading of an ordinance addressing nuisance properties in the county during its April 11 meeting.

Nine people spoke about the ordinance during the public comment period, most of whom said they opposed it.

The ordinance would authorize the county to abate rubbish, debris, junk and other materials that constitute a common public nuisance and affect the general health and welfare of the citizens of Kershaw County. Council had tabled second reading of the ordinance during its March 28 meeting.

This latest effort to address nuisance properties is currently being led by Councilman Al Bozard, who has said he became involved when a number of people in his district called to complain about certain properties in their neighborhoods. Bozard has reiterated the intent of his pursuing such an ordinance is not to infringe on the rights of property owners but to strike a good balance between respecting private property rights and government regulation. 

County Attorney Ken DuBose gave a brief update on changes he and staff have made to the ordinance based on concerns raised by both council members and the public. DuBose said the ordinance is civil rather than criminal, which means fines, rather than jail time, are prescribed as penalties for non-compliance. In addition, references to vehicles have been removed from the ordinance and the entire ordinance has been reorganized in an effort to make it clearer.

The ordinance would be activated by citizen complaint rather than by county codes enforcement.

“The first thing that happens is that a complaint must be received -- a citizen does not have the right to make a determination of a violation,” he said. “A codes official does that.”

The next step is for an inspection of the property in question to occur. This does not necessarily mean a codes officer must come onto the property to make an on-site inspection, but that may be necessary, he said.

If a violation is determined, the individual in violation is given a written notice and has 20 days to rectify the violation. If the individual does not correct or address the violation within the 20 day period, a second notice is sent giving the individual a final 10 days to address/correct the violation. If the individual still does not address/correct the violation, a summons is issued for magistrate’s court.

“The county does not have the right to remove anything from private property,” Dubose said.

Councilman Jimmy Jones noted that the county, by state statute, does not have the authority to address litter problems associated with such agricultural products as turkey feathers or wood chips. He also said he is still concerned the ordinance as written is still largely unenforceable and is still vague about such situations as burn piles and yard debris.

“I can’t support it as written right now -- I’m not comfortable yet -- however, I do support an ordinance, I just think this one, as written, is a little broad,” Jones said.

With Councilmen Ben Connell and Sammy Tucker Jr. absent, council passed second reading of the ordinance 4-1, with Councilmen Dennis Arledge, Al Bozard and Tom Gardner and Council Chairman Julian Burns voting in favor and Jones voting against it.

Other business discussed:

• Council heard a brief update on the Kershaw County School District Robotics team from Terry Shepherd, the team’s adult advisor. The robotics team, which is open to all KCSD middle and high school students, has done well in several competitions and is a valuable experience for the students involved as well as a strong ambassador for the county. Shepherd said he is seeking support for the team not only from the county, city and other organizations but wants to eventually include corporate sponsorship.  Later in the meeting, Councilmen Jimmy Jones, Al Bozard and Dennis Arledge all requested $1,000 allocations, which were approved, from their district accounts to be contributed to the team.

• Council heard an update regarding the S.C. Equine Park from John Cushman.

• Councilman Al Bozard requested $1,850 from his district account to repair the HVAC system at the Knights Hill Community Center. The request was unanimously approved.

• Council approved a proclamation designating April 9-15 as National Public safety Telecommunications Week in Kershaw County.

• Council recognized Barbara Ray, long time director of the Kershaw County Office of Veteran’s Affairs. Ray was recently named Veterans Affairs Officer of the Year by the S.C. Association of County Veterans Affairs Officers.

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