• Sumter County Council approves second reading for 'Project Batch' during March 12, 2019 meeting

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    Sumter County Council Tuesday evening approved first reading on two land use matters among other items during its regular meeting.

    City-County Zoning Administrator Helen Roodman spoke to council about a request to rezone a five acre parcel at 4980-4984 Cane Savannah Road from Agricultural Conservation (AC) to General Commercial (GC) or General Residential (GR).

    Roodman said the request came from the property owner, Charles Smith, who wants a mobile home park, which isn’t permitted in an AC district, but allowed in GR. Under the 2030 Land Use Plan, the property is designated as part of the Military Protection Area, she said, and lies between Shaw Air Force Base and Poinsett Electronic Combat Range. It’s outside of the Noise Attenuation Zones, she said, and in the past was Oak Grove Mobile Home Park.

    Roodman said Smith wants to re-establish a mobile home park. In general, the Comprehensive Plan isn’t supportive of rezoning the property to allow additional mobile homes or increased residential density of more than one unit per acre, she said.

    The Planning Commission recommended approval of the request to rezone the property to GC, she said, and staff found that district was more favorable than GR, based on the 2030 Plan policies.

    Councilman Charles Edens asked if staff recommended GC over GR and she said staff believes the Comprehensive Plan is more in favor of a commercial designation for the property as opposed to a residential designation.

    Edens said in the past old mobile home parks were dense, whereas some existing ordinances need to be addressed. Roodman said a mobile home park is currently defined as any property with three or more mobile homes on it. There’s also a caveat in the zoning ordinance which allows only one dwelling per parcel of land for residential development, she said.

    Edens said council needs to go back and review it and was interested in how the layout of the park would look. Roodman said rezoning the property was just the first step and a conditional use review process would require submission of the plan.

    Edens asked if council has the authority to limit the number of mobile homes and she said it doesn’t. That may be something that could be changed, he said.

    First reading passed unanimously.


    Roodman then spoke about a request to allow an outdoor pistol, rifle or skeet range in the Heavy Industrial (HI) District. The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office wants to create a shooting range next to the Brewington Road landfill, she said.

    It would be permitted as a special exception in many other districts, she said, but not in HI. A public hearing would be part of the approval process, she noted.

    Uninhabitable flood plains lie to the southeast of the property, she said, and the landfill is behind it.

    The Planning Commission recommended approval, she said, and planning staff concurs. Councilman Eugene Baten asked about the language that includes “or skeet range” and Roodman said that involves shooting clay pigeons with shotguns, as opposed to shooting at a fixed target on the ground.

    Roodman said the SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) code clumps together the uses, referring to a pistol, rifle or skeet range as one in the same. Special exception review criteria states the site shall not be within 1,000 feet of any residential use in a straight line, nor within 2,500 feet at and between 45 degrees downrange of any residential use, she said.

    Councilman Artie Baker noted that shooting skeet is done with shotguns, which don’t travel far in terms of the pellets.

    First reading passed unanimously.


    Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon spoke next about an ordinance to amend the current 2018-19 budget. Two fire trucks to be purchased for $100,000, digital imaging archive work for the Register of Deeds office would cost $40,000 and an additional $50,000 would fund sheriff’s deputies providing after-hours security at high school sporting events, he said.

    Council Chairman James T. McCain Jr. said a public hearing would be held prior to third reading. No one spoke and third reading passed unanimously.


    Next on the agenda, McCain said there was a request for a procedural vote for council to approve a company to begin work on the Shannontown Project.

    (Note: Late last year, Sumter County was awarded a $283,983 grant to demolish dilapidated homes in the Turkey Creek area, referred to as the Shannontown Project. Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments (COG) is working with the county to spearhead the project.)

    Sumter County Property Manager Chris Hilditch told council members that on Feb. 21 bid openings for asbestos assessments and air monitoring and the contract was awarded to Summit ELT. Council unanimously approved a letter being sent to COG memorializing the contract.


    McCain next spoke about a request for council members to provide Sumter School District with three years of look back millage as allowed by Act 388. Baten made a motion and Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney seconded the motion for discussion.

    Baten said he sponsored the agenda item and spoke at length about the current situation regarding the finances of the Sumter School District. He said council refused the district’s last two requests for millage increases and worried that the S.C. Department of Education declaring a fiscal emergency for the district is an embarrassing situation.

    Baten said the Legislature has not provided adequate funding for counties the last six or years under the Local Government Fund and it would be hypocritical for council to deny the school district millage increases.

    Baten then spoke about a request to send a letter to the Sumter County Legislative Delegation requesting fiscal autonomy for the district. Only Baten voted for the motion and the motion failed.


    County Attorney Johnathan Bryan spoke next about second reading authorizing the execution and delivery of an infrastructure credit agreement to ‘Project Batch.’

    (Note: At the Feb. 26, 2019, meeting, council members approved first reading on this as yet-unnamed economic development project, known as ‘Project Batch.’ It would bring a $4.2 million investment and 120 jobs.)

    Second reading passed unanimously.

    Bryan next spoke about second reading to amend the master agreement governing the Sumter-Lee Industrial Park. It would allow ‘Project Batch’ to locate in the park.

    Second reading passed unanimously.


    Council Vice-Chairman Jimmy Byrd reported on several people who were nominated to various boards and commissions. Council approved all the nominations.

    Councilman Chris Sumpter reported on an earlier Public Safety Committee meeting during which tethering laws and dog adoption practices were discussed. An update on the detention center and sheriff’s office were also given, he said. No action was taken, he said.

    McCain said the Fiscal, Tax and Property Committee met and the committee made a motion and a second to retain WebsterRogers as the external auditor.

    That motion passed unanimously by full council.

    McGhaney reported about the recent Rural Summit in Orangeburg hosted by the S.C. Association of Counties. She said one takeaway was the need for residents to get their credit scores improved, and how that would improve the quality of life.

    She also thanked the Sheriff’s Office for helping clean up Cannery Road.


    During the public comments, Lashon Ham spoke about her dislike of the overall condition of the gym at the county’s Recreation Department. McCain noted that her grievances would be addressed after the meeting.

    Dr. Johnny Hilton spoke about an upcoming event – the Inspire Festival, which will benefit the Sumter Little Theatre, Sumter County Gallery of Art and the Sumter County Museum.

    Regina Tucker spoke about the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Advisory Committee and why she takes part in it. She also expressed the need to have little cleaned up in Rembert.

    The meeting, which began shortly after 6 p.m., adjourned at 7:09 p.m.

    Council’s next meeting is slated for 6 p.m. on March 26 on the third floor of the Administration building at 13 East Canal Street.