By David Meade
Pelzer Town Council approved first reading on an annexation ordinance to bring 17 parcels of property, including Town Hall, the Pelzer Gym and upper and lower mill properties, into the town limits.
This is the first large scale annextion of property for the town as an increasing number of residents and property owners push to be included in town limits. The property annexation will pave the way for even more individual property owners to petition to have their property brought in.
A number of residents and property owners have expressed interest in becoming a part of the town, many with hopes of eventually having some police protection and possibly other services available to them.
Pelzer Town Council and Mayor Steve McGregor have supported the annexation requests that have come before the town so far.
In a related matter, Council discussed the option of having different water and sewer rates for customers located inside and outside the town limits.
Most municipalities in the state have higher rates for utility customers residing outside the town limits.
Mayor McGregor said at this time he did not think having different rates for Pelzer customers was a good idea and that the situation Pelzer has is different from other towns.
“This is about as unique as you can get,” he said, referring to the fact that the majority of Pelzer’s customers are located outside of the current town limits.
The unique situation is the result of the way the mill town was set up, where only the streets where most of the owners and supervisors resided were incorporated into the town. The result was an upper and lower mill village where most of the residents reside, located outside the incorporated town limits.
With the mills gone, some residents and property owners are begining to realize that there are some advantages that could be realized by being included in the town limits, including having a voice, running for office and possibly having police protection.
Councilmember Cheryl Boudreau said many Pelzer residents think the town council and residents that are in the town limits pay less for their water and sewer, which is not true.
“We don’t get any breaks on our water bills,” she said.
Councilmember Donna Ide said that the annexation is a drawn out process and she didn’t want to penalize customers outside the town limits.
Mayor McGregor said that the possibility of having a police department is not going to happen over night, but it is something to look into.
At one time the mills provided a constable to help police the mill villages.
“The mill village, in its time was perfect,” McGregor said. “But it is gone.”
There was additional discussion about problems some lower mill village residents are having with people partying and shooting firearms along the river near their homes.
There was discussion about fencing and posting signs.
It was also noted that the Pelzer swimming pool will not be opened this summer.
Town officials have considered closing the pool for several years due to increasing costs and regulations associated with keeping a municipalilty operated pool open.
Council tabled first reading on the 2014-15 budget ordinance and scheduled a budget work session for this Friday, May 16 at 12:30 p.m. to go over the budget in more detail.