News Archive

(4707) Week of Nov. 21, 2007

Opening Night Ceremony Sat. for Christmas park 
Town employees get pay raise
Powdersville residents respond to District zoning proposal - Many do not support zoning
Daniel T. Cooper Library and Government Center opens
Powdersville Water opens new offices
West Pelzer hires auditor
Holiday Fair to be held in Pelzer
Country Christmas Parade Dec. 15
Deputies investigate incidents
Ratings show schools are above average
Seems to Me . . . Zoned Out

Opening Night Ceremony Sat. for Christmas park 

An opening night ceremony for the lighting of the Christmas Park will be held this Saturday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m.

The event is being organized by members of the Springwater Committee who have coordinated special entertainment and events for the holiday season.

Opening night there will be horse-drawn carriage rides through the park, along with special entertainment, hot drinks and cookies and Santa will arrive for his first night in the Scout Hut.

Entertainment for Saturday will include Linda Allen Choir, Bessie Road Baptist Church Choir, and One Voice Gospel Ensemble from Washington Baptist Church, Ware Place. Members of Cedar Grove Baptist Church and  Springwater Church will display a live nativity. Strong Communities will offer free hot chocolate and cookies.

Deck the Halls will also be a part of the opening night with decorated trees placed in the Municipal Center by churches or individuals.

Special entertainment is planned for weekends and other nights through December.

According to Chairman Dianne Lollis, spaces are still available for businesses, churches, organizations and individuals who would like to place a lighted display in the park. Display will have to be complete by 6 p.m. Saturday.

Anyone interested can participate by placing a lighted display in the park or by volunteering to help set up displays and lights prior to opening night. If your organization would like to reserve a display space, call Chairman Dianne Lollis at 864-847-5743.

Anyone interested in placing a decorated tree in the Hall of Lights at the Williamston Municipal Center is also asked to contact Lollis. Entries will be judged and the winners of each category will be displayed the week before Christmas, organizers said.

Entertainment schedules and other information about the Christmas Park and other holiday events are included in a special section in The Journal this week.

Town employees get pay raise

Following months of discussion and after being tabled several times for lack of information, Williamston Town Council approved a 3.4 percent pay raise for town employees. The raise is retroactive to July 1.

Council approved the raise Monday after accountant Renita Owens told them that even though they didn’t have accurate figures, she thought the town’s cash flow was sufficient to cover the $37,000 needed for the pay raise.

The issue was tabled at several meetings because accurate financial information has not been available to Council.

Owens stated that getting accurate information has been a problem because of problems she said that are directly related to the Town’s accounting software.  “We have had a very frustrating few months,” she said.

Owens said that the balance sheet and financial statements are still not programed and that other information is incorrect. “I had hoped that was in place to do what you need,” she said.

The Town is currently attempting to get the software problems fixed by Smithdata, but are considering changing to another software.

Owens said that even with “excess expenditures” made recently with the purchase of a new tractor and packer, there was enough cash flow for the raise and that tax money will be coming in soon

“I still feel the cash flow is there to do it,” Owens said.

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. pointed out that the town has saved $17,000 in insurance premiums due to efforts of town employees. Mayor Clardy said that due to rating improvements since 2001, the town has saved approximately $320,000 in insurance premiums.

Council decided to designate the Dec. 17 meeting as a work session to look at policy and procedures with the town’s labor attorney.

A request to tear down  a structure that has been deemed a hazard led to discussion about wording for a new ordinance addressing similar issues.

The owners of a block house located on Roberts Blvd. have asked the town to help remove the structure.

Attorney Richard Thompson recommended the town have a list of properties and designate priority. He also recommended the town establish  procedures and a process for dealing with both voluntary and involuntary removal of structures. The town attorney also recommended that a building inspector, possibly the County building inspector, be involved.

A bid offer to remove the structure was opened but included no provision for permits or tipping fees. Mayor Clardy said he would refuse the bid of $3,200 and a previous bid for the same reason.

Councilman Carthel Crout said that he was “very much concerned about the children and the riff-raff that is hanging around there.”

“Let’s make it safe for our children at that school,” Crout said referring to children who walk by the building on their way to school.

The color of a new roof on the scout hut remained unsettled after a 2-2 vote with one councilman abstaining.

The issue, which Mayor Clardy said was not about the color of the roof, but whether the Scout Hut renovation committee or the Park Committee had authority to make a recommendation to Council.

The Scout Hut renovation project was originally under the Williamston Area Historic Commission, which had been working on improvements prior to the formation of the Park Committee.

Members of the renovation committee wanted a burgundy metal roof. The Park Committee, which was charged with overseeing improvements in the park this year, recommended a green roof to match the new metal roofs placed on park shelters during the summer.

Councilman Middleton and Clardy both stated they felt the town should honor the prior committment to the Scout Hut renovation committee.

Middleton suggested the town allow the Scout Hut committee to finish the project and then bring it under the park committee.

“I feel we should honor our committment to them, then close it out,” Middleton said.

Clardy and Middleton voted in favor of the Scout Hut committee recommendation. Councilmen Crout and David Harvell were opposed. Councilman Scott abstained. Due to the tie, Mayor Clardy said he would put the issue on the agenda at a later date.

Council discussed changes to a yard sale ordinance which will require a written warning for a violation and added penalties of $250 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense.

A public hearing on the ordinance is set for the Dec. 3 meeting of Council at which second reading is expected to be held.

Discussion on the fees charged for the municipal center use was tabled to the next meeting.

Council unanimously agreed to allow funds previously designated for decorating the park to be used to upgrade decorations for the Municipal Center. Decorations to be purchased will include a new tree, lights, trees and other related items.

The town budgeted $2,500 for Christmas Park expenses. Other expenditures coming from the budgeted amount include a lift rental, light strings for the park and Hwy. 20 bridge decorations.

Bridge decorations are being coordinated by the Red Hat Honey Dos. During the meeting, Council approved a request by Anne Ernest for funds to help with the project after Mayor Clardy made a motion that up to $500 be approved  for garland and lights to finish the project.

There was discussion about the use of town vehicles and gas.

Councilman Scott suggested the Town curtail the use of vehicles until the price of gas comes down. Councilman Crout noted that he had complaints from citizens about police cars being seen in Greenville, at grocery stores and taking children to school.

He said the town should purchase gas at locations offering the lowest price. Clardy said there was no written policy.

“I thing it’s time we made one,” Scott said.

Council approved a request by Bobby Winburn of the Church of God of Prophecy to allow a Christmas play to be held at the Williamston Municipal Center auditorium at 6 p.m. on Dec. 23. The event is open to the public.

Donna Owen informed Council that the Angel Food Ministry program is now available in Williamston and is being sponsored by Grace United Methodist Church. The food program, which is open to anyone, provides $60 to $70 in groceries for $25, Owen said. Applications will be taken at the Grace Fellowship Hall located on Main St. next to the church. The next order deadline is Dec. 3.

Council unanimously agreed to go into executive session to discuss a personnel issue.

Upon returning to public session, they adjourned with no further action.

Powdersville residents respond to District zoning proposal
Many do not support zoning

By Stan Welch

A little more than two weeks ago, approximately fifty people attended a land use forum at Wren High school and expressed strong support for district wide zoning in District Six. So strong was their support that District Six County Councilman Ron Wilson hustled an ordinance through first reading that would allow for a complete change in the manner in which zoning is implemented in District Six.

Monday night, the other side of the coin turned up in the form of almost two hundred people who attended a similar meeting at the new Powdersville library. Their opposition to both zoning and the abrupt proposed change in the rules of the game was obvious.

Wilson proposed a change in the zoning process in response to concerns expressed by the residents of a neighborhood who learned almost too late that their area was unprotected by zoning.

Following a successful legal battle to enforce existing covenants and preventing a business from opening in their otherwise residential area, these residents approached Wilson and asked him to address the issue by proposing district wide zoning, rather than the precinct by precinct approach currently in place.

Wilson’s response was to propose an ordinance, by title only, which would invoke zoning across the entire district, without benefit of a referendum allowing the voters of District Six to participate. Under the current method of zoning, a petition bearing a certain number of voters’ signatures is required to place the issue on the ballot. The results of that vote determine whether or not zoning is invoked.

Under the proposed ordinance, which was scheduled for second reading at the November 20 County Council meeting, a simple majority vote of Council can give approval to zoning. That change in the process clearly upset many of those attending Monday’s meeting almost as much as the idea of zoning itself. Wilson was repeatedly accused of trying to slip the change past people.

Anderson County Planning Director Jeff Ricketson tried to explain to the crowd that he was simply there to make a presentation on what the proposed changes, if approved, would involve. He spent the first thirty minutes of the meeting answering questions about zoning and the ordinance and other matters before he could even begin his presentation.

Questions were raised about why the first meeting wasn’t better publicized. Wilson and Ricketson explained that the same method was used to publicize that meeting as the last one. “Obviously you all heard about this one,” said Ricketson.

Those in support of the proposed change were far fewer in number, or much quieter in their support. The meeting was dominated by those who see zoning as an imposition on their personal property rights. That view was expressed repeatedly and loudly.

Steve Cooper, a local landowner asked the question that many wanted answered. “I have a hundred and fifty acres of land that has been in my family for two hundred years. I have two sheds on it now. Are you telling me that if that property is zoned residential, and I want to build a third shed in the middle of that hundred and fifty acres, I have to ask permission to do that?”

Ricketson said that Cooper would in fact have to seek a rezoning of that area to allow for the construction of the shed. The response was not popular.

Councilman Wilson told the crowd that there are three methods by which zoning can be achieved.

One way is the current precinct by precinct method. Another is the method he is attempting, which involves a Council member asking Council to establish zoning in a particular district. The third is that County Council can invoke zoning throughout the county simply by producing such an ordinance and giving it three approving votes.

That led Freddie Zink, a local leader and Wilson supporter, to ask why the meeting was even held.

“Council can do this with three votes, and it looks like that’s exactly what they are going to do. You can put this to a referendum and every single voter in this area can vote it down. But it doesn’t mean a hill of beans. Council has the authority to do this on their own.”

Jerry Tripp, a local developer, raised two issues. The first was why zoning is needed.

“In 1987, we had a land use planning commission that put together some of the best development standards in this state. I was on that commission. Since then, the developers in this area have done a great job of following those standards. That’s one reason this area is growing so fast, because Powdersville looks so good. What we need is the county to enforce the standards we have. If they do, the need for zoning disappears.”

Tripp also questioned the zoning of just District Six. “The developers in this area have worked hard and taken chances and done it right, and now you’re going to punish us by zoning us but no one else in the county? Ron, if you do this, the least you can do is put it on the whole county.”

Others also questioned how representatives from the other Council districts, who have no plans to impose zoning in their districts, can vote to do so in areas they don’t represent. There were many concerns about the voters being denied a chance to have their say.

Wilson was taken to task by several speakers, including one who  asked why Wilson had turned against those who have lived in Powdersville all their lives, in favor of recent arrivals. “Ron, why are you turning your back on us and supporting these people? What are you thinking?”

 Wilson replied that he thinks District Six needs zoning. He also expressed his intention to vote for the zoning ordinance. He also stated that he would not make a motion to table the question for further study. “I will do this, however” he said. “I will speak to other members of Council about their willingness to put this to a referendum.”

There are several meetings coming up where the public can express their opinions. Second reading of the ordinance was scheduled for the November 20 Council meeting. (Due to the holiday printing schedule at The Journal, the report of that meeting will appear in next week’s issue.)

There will also be a second public forum, such as the one Monday night, to be held at Wren High school next Monday night, November 26, at 7 p.m. A planning commission meeting is scheduled for December 27 in the County Council chambers.

Third reading of the proposed zoning ordinance is scheduled for December 4 at the County council meeting. That meeting will include a public hearing on the ordinance.

Daniel T. Cooper Library and Government Center opens

By Stan Welch

A large crowd gathered Sunday to see the dedication and opening of the Daniel T. Cooper Library and Government Center. At least a hundred and fifty people, including an impressive roster of elected officials, attended the ceremony.

The facility, referred to several times as the new center of Powdersville, comprises 18,000 square feet of space. County Administrator Joey Preston, in his remarks, said, “We are standing in the middle of downtown Powdersville today.”

Two thirds of the space is dedicated to the housing of some 40,000 volumes, as well as twenty five computer stations and several tutoring areas. A large meeting room is also included. The remaining six thousand square feet will be used to house County offices for the Sheriff’s Department, a magistrate, a branch of the treasurer’s office and the building and codes department. Those offices will operate on a limited schedule according to District Six Councilman Ron Wilson.

The former library consisted of 2400 square feet and contained 15,000 volumes.

Among the dignitaries present were State Senators Billy O’Dell and Kevin Bryant, State Rep. Michael D. Thompson, former State Rep. Ronnie Townsend, Mr. Dolly Cooper, father of honoree Dan Cooper, former Councilman Bill Dees, Sheriff David Crenshaw, and Councilman Larry Greer. School District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler, as well as former library director Carl Stone were also on hand.

On Friday, the expanded Powdersville Water District offices were also officially re-opened (see related story elsewhere in this issue). The two buildings sit within a hundred yards of each other and form the nucleus of what has been a called a campus.

One feature of the new library is the Cely Family meeting room, a large conference room named for the Cely family, which cooperated in arranging a land swap with the water district to combine enough acreage at the campus site to make the projects feasible. The Cely family has a long history in the Powdersville area.

In his remarks to the crowd, Councilman Wilson referred to that family history, saying that it had played “an incredible role in the ongoing growth of our area.”

He called the new center “the hub of future growth and development in the Powdersville area.”

He also credited former Councilman Bill Dees for much of the project’s success. “I don’t know why I’m up here speaking before Bill. He was the one who worked so hard to get this done. I got elected in time to see them put the final coat of paint on it.”

Dees recalled the time when the vision of such a facility was so unformed that “it was a matter of if, not where, we would build it. But things happen when you work together and keep a goal in sight. This is a great day for Powdersville.”

Rep. Dan Cooper, for whom the building was named, seemed a bit overwhelmed. 

Speaking of his father, former Rep. M. J. “Dolly”  Cooper, he said, “In Columbia, even after seventeen years in the House, I’m still known as Dolly’s boy. I really can’t believe that I’ve just had a library named after me. This is one of the unforgettable moments in my life, and a tremendous honor.”

Powdersville Water opens new offices

By Stan Welch

Customers of the Powdersville Water district will notice some major changes the next time they visit the district’s offices on Highway 81 in Powdersville. For starters, the size of the building has doubled.

Expanding from four thousand to eight thousand square feet, the facility is designed to increase service and make the utility and its operations more accessible to the public. Norbert Steeber, chairman of the District Board of Directors, said, “This utility has grown tremendously. We now have more than 11,000 taps and we are growing at about four and a half per cent each year. We have great people here, who work constantly to keep up with that kind of growth. We actually hope to stay a bit ahead, but it can be a challenge.”

Dyke Spencer, general manager, called it a “very important day and weekend for our area. The expansion of this building and the opening of the new library establishes a campus, a base of operations that will become the center of Powdersvile.”

Sen. Larry Martin, who spoke at the dedication of the original building in 1992, was on hand once again. “Rural water is the very lifeblood of development. The Powdersville Water district has led the consistent and progressive growth of this area. Without water, there truly is no growth.”

Sen. Martin said he was filling in for Rep. Dan Copper who was delayed at the last moment, while assistant county administrator Michael Cunningham read a letter of congratulations on behalf of county administrator Joey Preston, who was also unable to make the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Two long time employees, Barbara Bridges, who has been with the utility since it began thirty six years ago, and Donnie Nabors, who has worked there for nineteen years, were asked to cut the ribbon, re-opening the facility.

West Pelzer hires auditor

By Stan Welch

The West Pelzer Town Council hired an auditor at the l ast Council meeting, awarding the contract to Byrely, Payne &White, a firm which entered the middle bid of the three received. The contract will pay the auditors $120 per hour. The other bids were for $100 and $150 per hour, respectively.

Council also approved three appointments to the Planning and Zoning Committee. Jackie Durham, Debra Rainey, and Mary Ann Woodson were all reappointed unanimously. Mayor Paxton also made a formal request that the committee update the Town’s comprehensive plan.

Work has begun on small water line project, and the paving to repair the bores made in installing the lines is expected to begin before Thanksgiving.

Councilman King raised the question of purchase order numbers being assigned to all purchases. After a lengthy and spirited discussion, Mayor Paxton assured the Council that a workable solution would be found.

Councilman Joe Turner raised some citizens’ concerns about what the police station is being used for and how much the utilities cost. Officer Brownlee explained that with only one patrolman assigned to each shift, more time is spent in the cruisers than in the building.

Councilman Jimmy Jeanes questioned why Mayor pro tem Marshall King isn’t a signer on the town’s checking accounts. Mayor Paxton said he could be if he wished, but current policy doesn’t require it.

The Town’s Christmas Parade is scheduled for Saturday, December 1, and limb and leaf pickup is scheduled for December 8.

(Editor’s note: This story was produced from the official minutes of the November 13 meeting of the West Pelzer Town Council.)

Holiday Fair to be held in Pelzer

The Town of Pelzer invites all who love the Christmas spirit to the Third Annual Pelzer Holiday Fair. The yule-time celebration and fair  will take place at the Historic Pelzer Gym on Friday, November 30 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 1 from noon until 8 p.m. On Friday, Santa will hold court from 6:30pm until 8pm. On Saturday, his court will start immediately following his appearance in  the Pelzer/West Pelzer Christmas parade and continue until 8pm.

If you are looking for presents, there will be vendors selling all types of wares inside the Gym. Historic carriage rides will be offered all day on the 30th and from 6 to 8p.m. on the 1st. Rides will start at the Gym and journey up and down Lebby St. for only $10 per family. A Town of Pelzer archival scrapbook will also be on display in the Historic Pelzer Gym. All with memories of Christmas in Pelzer are welcome to record them by writing them inside where they will be preserved for future generations.

The Community of Pelzer Historical Society will host two local authors, Gene Welborn and Virginia Major.  The authors will be selling their books as a fund raiser for the  Community of Pelzer Historical Society’s efforts toward preserving Pelzer history. Also featured will be a complete set of miniature wooden reproductions of historic buildings in the Pelzer area by distinguished artist Judy Young. The wooden reproductions will be sold  individually and in custom orders. There will be information available on the holiday celebrations planned  in the Westminster area as well.

Country Christmas Parade Dec. 15

The 2nd annual Country Christmas Parade sponsored by the South Greenville Fire Department will be held Saturday, December 15 at 11 a.m. in the Ware Place area.

The parade will begin at Hwy. 418 and Old Hundred Road and continue to  Old Hundred Grocery. Everyone is weelcome to participate. Contact SGFD Chief Ken Taylor for more information at 864-243-5650.

Deputies investigate incidents

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents: 

PELZER

Nov. 13 – T.B. Dugan responded to 119 Page Rd. where Timothy Garrett reported the theft of gasoline which was siphoned from two vehicles at the location. Approximately 18 gallons, valued at $54.00 was taken.

Nov. 13 – J.F. Parker responded to 20 River Rd. where he met with Spencer Sneed. Sneed was at 15 River Road checking a meter for Duke Power Company when he was approached by a white male who allegedly told Sneed that his truck lights were shining in the house. He allegedly pointed a gun at him, threatening to blow his head off. Deputy Parker spoke to the resident at 20 River Road, who said the man had been there selling him some marijuana. The man could not be located in the area.

Nov. 14 – R.D. Smith responded to 261 Hardwood Rd. where Clara Gilreath reported that an unknown subject driving a dark blue or black four door BMW had driven past her house shooting paintballs at the residence. Her house was hit several times, as well as her Suburban. In addition, her son, Jonathan was also struck by one of the paintballs, bruising his arm.

PIEDMONT

Nov. 13 – J.T. Lee responded to 602 Anderson St. where Rex Shell told him that someone had stolen his 1988 navy blue Isuzu Trooper from the Dollar Store on Hwy. 86 while he was inside buying groceries. The vehicle carries SC tag # 145-5BV.

 Nov. 13 – J.A. Frazier was dispatched to 110 Frontage Rd. to the Pilot Station, where Jason Crawley reported the theft of his 1997 Volvo tractor cab from the location. Crawley had left the vehicle, with the key in the ignition, and with the doors locked, to be serviced over the weekend. The cab, supposedly burgundy but closer to brown, was valued at approximately $29,000 along with several thousand dollars worth of electronics. The SC tag # was P794289 with the markings CRST on the door.

Nov. 13 – S. Proner responded to 201 Shiloh Church Rd. where Richard Page, of 204 Shiloh Church Rd. reported seeing a white male teenager walking near the 201 location. He later checked on the house and found the glass side door shattered. The officers who responded found freshly cooked food inside. Page said the victim, Ronald Pingley was out of state and no one should be in the house. Two days later, on November 15, R.D. Smith responded to the same address in reference to a grand theft auto report. Before arriving, he was informed that the Williamston Police Department was in pursuit of a vehicle for reckless driving. The victims, Mr. And Mrs. Ronald Pingley reported that they returned home from out of town to find their son William Pingley, WM, 17, in their house. He had broken in after his father changed the locks two weeks earlier, following the younger Pingley’s theft of his father’s truck, which he wrecked in Greenville County. Mrs. Pingley reported that William had stolen her 2000 Camry and left their home.

At that point, ACSO deputy J.T. Foster deployed three spike sticks to try and stop the pursuit which had reached the area of Hwy. 29 and Plantation Dr. The rear tires of the vehicle were flattened and the vehicle entered the Anderson City limits, where Cpl. C. Brewer of the Anderson City Police took Pingley into custody.

BELTON

Nov. 13 – M.J. Giovanni responded to 102 Canton Lane, where Brian Pendergrass, who owns the location property as a rental property, reported that someone had entered the residence and stolen the hot water heater. While Giovanni was investigating he discovered that the entire air conditioning unit had also been stolen. The total loss was estimated at $1800.

Nov. 13 – M.J. Giovanni was dispatched to 215 Richey Road where Beth Perkins reported that her nephew had assaulted her during an argument over his failure to contribute to the finances of the household. Perkins declined to press charges but asked how to proceed with eviction if it was necessary.

Nov. 14 – D.L. Barton responded to a report of a stolen auto at 601 E. Calhoun Rd. Francina Thompson, of Apt. D-25 at that location reported that her 1997 green Honda Civic, SC tag # 105XCM had been stolen overnight. The vehicle was valued at $3000.

Nov. 14 – M.B. Arflin was dispatched to 116 Elrod Dr. where Joshua Spearman reported the burglary of his home and the theft of welding tools and equipment valued at approximately $125.

Ratings show schools are above average

Anderson School District One continued their tradition of excellence with twelve out of fourteen schools remaining rated as Excellent or Good, with the remaining two schools Average according to the Annual School Report Card.

The report is a product of the Accountability Act of 1998 and the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The district absolute rating remained at Good, along with only six other districts in the state. Amidst the tough criteria for the rating system, Anderson One has continued to sustain its rating of Good.

Dr. Wayne Fowler, Superintendent for Anderson One, stated, “Test scores for Anderson One are among the highest in the state on all state wide assessments including the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test (PACT), High School Assessment Program (HSAP) and End of Course tests. Students continue to exceed the state level in all grades and in all four core subject areas. The effort by the teachers and students is what is keeping us at the top.”

“Schools are recognized for Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards due to our high achieving students and high standards and expectations set by the teachers and administration. Schools are closing the achievement gap and earning the Education Oversight Committee’s Closing the Achievement Gap Award.  The district is committed to the continuous process of analyzing data and looking particularly at subgroups and meeting the needs of individual students.”

According to the School Absolute Ratings, The District Officewas Good;  Concrete - Excellent; Cedar Grove - Good; Hunt Meadows- Good; Palmetto Elementary - Good; Pelzer - Average; Powdersville Elementary - Good; Spearman - Average; West Pelzer - Good; Wren Elementary - Good; Palmetto Middle -  Average; Powdersville Middle - Good; Wren Middle - Good; Palmetto High - Good; Wren High - Good.

Director of Elementary Education, Jane Harrison, stated “Regardless of what the state rates our schools, we know excellent instruction is being provided by our teachers and students are learning. Parents love their schools and are moving to Anderson One because of the outstanding school system we have. We are taking a closer look at the state academic standards for all four core areas and finding new innovative ways to provide opportunities for all students to have a mastery level understanding.  The state report card is evidence that Anderson One is among the best in the state.”

Associate Superintendent for Anderson District One, Mr. David Havird, stated, “Attaining good on our absolute rating is evidence of quality teaching by our well trained and prepared teaching staff in  Anderson School District One. The value of recruitment and retaining the very best teachers continues to be of the utmost importance in our district. We are very proud of our teachers and students as it relates to this academic performance indicator.”

Dr. John Pruitt, Director of Secondary Education, stated, “Knowing as we do that we are continuing to improve in almost every possible measure of academic achievement and that our rating on the report card is going down, I am certain there is a flaw in this accountability system.  Our schools are built solidly on the work of each faculty and administrative team member with the support of families and communities that have high expectations for their students’ continued academic and social progress.”

 

 

Seems to Me . . . Zoned Out

By Stan Welch

 I’ve been thinking about the sudden move in District Six to change the way in which zoning is handled in Anderson County. I’ve been thinking about it ever since a land use planning forum in the Wren area of District Six was hijacked a couple of weeks ago, and turned into a mini-referendum on zoning.

Hijacking may be too strong a word for such a choreographed event, but you get the drift.

Now, as most of you know, I’m from the coast of South Carolina, and zoning doesn’t make my hackles stand up like it does those of a lot of folks around here, including quite a few folks from District Six. And therein lies my problem with the recent events and decisions made concerning this issue.

As it stands now, the way for a group of residents to obtain zoning to protect their property and its value, is to publish a petition in their voting precinct. If they get the required signatures, they can then place the question of zoning on a referendum. Just one vote more than half of the votes cast is enough to settle the issue.

This approach to zoning is almost surgically precise, allowing property owners of a like mind to act to protect their property, while letting others in the general area also follow their own dictates when it comes to zoning. Unfortunately, this method is too slow and cumbersome for some folks in the Powdersville area.

These folks were aghast last year when they discovered there was no ordinance or restriction in place to prevent someone from opening a business in their home, which happened to be located in the same neighborhood these folks live in. The offended folks mounted a legal campaign, at significant cost, but they managed to prevail. Still, they were clearly taken aback by the lack of protection afforded by zoning. One might assume they were taken aback by the attorney’s fees as well.

So they approached their County Councilman, Ron Wilson, and they made their feelings clear. They found a receptive ear with Wilson, who began organizing to replace precinct based zoning with district wide zoning.

This sounds okay in a lot of ways, but it changes the entire approach to zoning with very little deliberation. Under Wilson’s proposed ordinance, which was so hastily presented to Council for first reading that it didn’t even actually exist at the time, zoning would be imposed on a district basis, subjecting the rural residents to the same level of regulation that the suburbanites of Powdersville crave. This is onerous enough to many in District Six who consider Powdersville the exception to their lifestyle, and not the rule.

But to make it worse, the Wilson ordinance would allow a simple vote of Council to impose the zoning, thereby completely undoing the existing system of minimal and specific zoning.

The argument arises that such an approach, in order to accommodate less than fifty residents of District Six, is draconian, to say the least. The precinct method of zoning was established seven years ago. Since then, not once has the Powdersville precinct sought to exercise its rights by requesting zoning. In other words, it took a close call to wake up these folks, many of whom have recently moved to the area.

 They are awake now, however, and they seem disinclined to putter along at the reasoned pace provided for by the precinct method of zoning. “Chop, Chop!” would seem to be their battle cry. “Stop, Stop” is heard from elsewhere in the District.

 There are many people in District Six who are more upset with the method being used than they are with the goal being pursued, and they’re pretty darn upset with the goal being pursued. But they feel as if an effort is being made to cut them out of the process and place it in the hands of a County Council that doesn’t enjoy a particularly high level of public trust in these parts. They feel, with some justification, as if they are being blindsided, as if the rules are being changed with very little thought or discussion.

Mr. Wilson’s protests that he has no intention of short circuiting the process are gaining little if any traction outside the Powdersville area. His haste in introducing a phantom ordinance for first reading approval speaks more loudly than his words.

Still, it seems to me there is much more at stake here than just zoning, though that is certainly a major matter in the affected area. But it seems to me that there is a real shift taking place in the policies and politics of Anderson County, as certain areas continue to experience virtually unrestrained growth.

People move to Powdersville seeking lower taxes, less traffic, and a quieter lifestyle. They bring with them new demands and different attitudes than those held by the ones who came before. But what the recent émigrés, like émigrés everywhere, forget is that their very coming changes what they hoped to find.

You can’t add ten thousand residents to a five mile radius and still provide the same levels of fire and police protection, or water and sewer. You can’t put six thousand extra cars on roads already outmoded and expect those roads to survive. You can’t meet these attendant infrastructure needs without higher taxes. And so the goals of those who come to Anderson County are virtually certain to remain unattainable.

Can you impose a new level of government involvement, some would say intrusion, to accommodate those who came lately, and survive the political wrath of those who came first?  This is a question that Ron Wilson will probably ask himself more than once in the coming months, but the only answer that counts will be made known next June, and perhaps again in November.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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