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Camden is Tree City USA for 27th year
City Council - Tree City USA
Lois Edwards, of the S.C. Forestry Commission (far left), and Camden Urban Forester Liz Gilland (far right) help celebrate the city of Camden being named a Tree City U.S.A. for the 27th consecutive year with members of the Camden Parks and Trees Commission and (back row, left to right) Camden City Council members Willard Polk, Mayor Tony Scully, Laurie Parks and Alfred Mae Drakeford. - photo by Martin L. Cahn

For the 27th consecutive year, Camden is a Tree City U.S.A., so named by the S.C. Forestry Commission (SCFC) and Arbor Day Foundation.

Camden Urban Forester Liz Gilland introduced Lois Edwards, SCFC’s Pee Dee Urban Forester, who presented the award to Camden City Council and the Camden Parks and Trees Commission during council’s regular Sept. 23 meeting.

“You all, the council, give the directions to the staff and also appropriate the budget to carry out the work of the management of the trees, the urban forest, in Camden,” Edwards said. “And, also, because your staff does a great job -- I’d really like to tell the community about it because you are known around the state. I have to say, one of the nicest things you did was hire Liz as the arborist … it gave some real professionalism to the program.”

Edwards also praised the city for having so many other people involved in tree management in Camden, including the parks and trees commission.

“Those volunteers, members of the community … I’m so glad to see they’re here tonight,” she said, adding the various division in the city’s public works department who handle removing and trimming trees or tree debris. “They all pitch in and show the leadership you all have with the staff in working together, and that means a lot.”

Edwards said it takes four things to be a Tree City U.S.A.: 1) having a committee such as the parks and trees commission; 2) having a tree ordinance on the books, which was updated in 2013; 3) appropriating money in the city budget for tree-related activity, including tree removal and new planting; and 4) celebrate Arbor Day, which the city does each December.

Following her remarks, Edwards presented Camden Mayor Tony Scully with the Tree City U.S.A. award and a large banner declaring Camden as a tree city to members of the parks and trees commission.

Councilman Willard Polk, who served on the commission when it was known as the Camden Parks and Streets Commission, said another group that should not be overlooked is the Camden Tree Foundation, which began working some 30 years ago.

“If it had not been for the Tree Foundation … the Tree (City) U.S.A. program probably would not have been initiated in the city of Camden through the fundraising, planning efforts and the planting efforts. I think that start and continuing this program -- I just want to make certain they’re not left out of the recognition,” Polk said.

Also during the Sept. 23 meeting, Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County Board of Directors President Linda Shaylor addressed council during the meeting’s public forum, primarily to thank the city for helping sponsor this week’s Carolina Downhome Blues Festival. She also thanked Mayor Scully for another reason.

“For his wonderful performance at our ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ He did a fabulous job; he was a hit,” Shaylor said. “We need people from the community who volunteer from time to time.”

She said the FAC is able to bring joy to many people in the community, and moved on to talking about the Blues festival. Shaylor said the event takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday and will feature 30 musical acts from as far away as New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and even the Australian Outback, at 14 different sites.

Shaylor ended her brief remarks with a quote from Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, following the 2001 terrorist attacks on America: “In the month following September 11, 2001, the humanities and the literary, visual, and performing arts have been a major vehicle for expressing the inexpressible -- even the unbearable.”

“So, remember,” Shaylor urged, “as the arts inspire creativity in each of us, individually, they breathe life into our communities.”

In other business, council unanimously (with Councilman Walter Long absent):

• proclaimed September as the 200th anniversary of America’s national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner;

• proclaimed October 5-11 as Fire Prevention week, presenting the proclamation to Camden Fire Department Chief John Bowers;

• proclaimed October as Community Planning Month, presenting the proclamation to Camden City Planner Shawn Putnam;

• passed second and final reading of an ordinance amending the “qualification of members” portion of the city code to allow people from outside the city of Camden to be nominated to the Price House Commission;

• appointed Jacqueline Greene-Stuckey to the Price House Commission with a term to expire July 31, 2017;

• passed a resolution authorizing financing terms for the purchase of four new police units and one street department work truck for a total cost of $180,000;

• passed a resolution authorizing the city reimburse itself for the police and work truck purchases through proceeds from debt it will incur; and

• passed first reading of an ordinance that, if approved on second and final reading, will amend and restate certain provisions of Chapter 158 of the city code governing the Camden Historic Landmarks Commission (CHLC).

Many of the Chapter 158 changes cover either minor language changes or additions to assist the commission with S.C. Freedom of Information Act compliance. One of the most substantial changes -- one sought for some time by members of council -- deletes a requirement that National Register properties automatically come under CHLC jurisdiction.

Another revision now clarifies that when the owner of an historically designated property submits a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) application to the CHLC, a notice will be sent out to adjacent property owners seven days before the commission meets to consider that application. Adjacent property owners will also be given the chance to speak at those meetings.

Also, Chapter 158 already states that the CHLC may postpone granting a COA for demolition or relocation of a Camden historic property for 90 days. Now, the CHLC may postpone granting such a COA for an additional 30 days if the structure is designated as an historic landmark.

Other substantive changes include an addition requiring the city’s building department to maintain a list of all designated properties; and a requirement for real estate agents to disclose that a property is designated as an historic property when it is sold.