By David Meade
If Pelzer voters approve the annexation referendum June 9, the Town of Pelzer will double the current town boundaries by including the upper and lower mill villages.
It will also double that footprint again by including unincorporated areas located adjacent to and between West Pelzer and Williamston that are included in the Pelzer Voting Precinct.
By the time the paperwork is completed, the Town of Pelzer could be more than six times larger than it currently is, making it the largest, at least by footprint, of the three towns.
The unincorporated area that will be brought into the town includes properties located between Depot Road, Palmetto Road, Palmetto High practice fields, both sides of SC Highway 20 including Fred’s, and along Courtney St., to the town owned lagoon property.
Properties on the Williamston side of Courtney Street including Brookview, Page and Tripp Streets just outside the Town of Williamston are not included in the annexation.
The annexation will also include four large tracts of property that are located in the triangle area between Depot Road, Palmetto High School and SC Highway 20.
Five pieces of property annexed last year by the Town of Williamston in preparation for the rumored Walmart development off Roberts Blvd. and SC Hwy. 20 are actually in the Pelzer voting precinct and would have been included in the Pelzer annexation had they not been annexed in advance by Williamston.
Jeff Shacker of the SC Municipal Association said he didn’t see the overlap of the Pelzer voting precinct with the five “Walmart development properties” now in Williamston as being a problem since the Pelzer referendum defines the annexation as being the unincorporated portion of the Pelzer Precinct Voting Area.
Several residents of the Kendall Acres subdivision (Whistle Way) located on Depot Road brought up the issue of their subdivision being included in the annexation last week during a Pelzer town council meeting.
Pelzer Mayor Steve McGregor said he didn’t realize that the area to be annexed included Depot Road. McGregor said the initial plan was to annex the upper and lower mill villages into the Pelzer town limits.
When drawing up the election referendum, the Anderson County Election Commission defined the area to be annexed as the Pelzer Voting Precinct.
Members of the Pelzer Heritage Commission and residents interested in seeing Pelzer revived have been instrumental in the effort to see the town grow.
Over the last two years, Pelzer has already brought a number of properties into the town, most of those have been annexation by petition requested by the property owners.
Over that time a growing number of residents have expressed interest in being in the town limits and Pelzer town council members have embraced the idea.
When the town was Chartered on Mar. 17, 1952, the original four streets included just Anderson, Lebby, Hale, and two houses on Reed Street. That remained the same until 2013 when three contiquous properties were brought in.
The first large scale annexation of property for the town took place May 14, 2014, when Pelzer Town Council approved 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. Six of those were later recinded due to legal questions.
The property annexation paved the way for even more individual property owners to petition to have their property brought in.
The Pelzer Church of God property and five other properties were also brought in during 2014.
After learning that another option was available to the town which would tremendously speed up the annexation process, supporters and town officials began collecting signatures to hold a voter referendum under the Annexation by Elector Petition and Election Method allowed by the state.
The petition was approved in March and a date set for the election.
Any registered voter of the Pelzer voting precinct can vote in the referendum on annexation which will be held on Tuesday, June 9.
Pelzer officials and supporters are working on a list of reasons to present to voters in support of annexation.
During a worksession on annexation held in 2013, a representative of the SC Municipal Association presented information about annexation.
According to information presented during the meeting, benefits to residents usually include improved services, additional services such as streetlights and utilities, law enforcement and fire protection, lower property insurance ratings, planning and zoning land use regulations and participation in the local municipal government.
Benefits to the municipality usually include more citizens participating in the government, economy of scale in providing services, increased revenue sharing to support services and better planning.
Positives brought up during recent disucssions include: eventual police protection, the right to vote, and the right to help Pelzer grow and street lights being turned back on.
Currently no taxes paid by residents who are already in the town. There is a 3 percent franchise fee paid on Charter and Duke Energy bills.
It was also pointed out that annexation would make the Pelzer footprint bigger and make them more likely to get Federal grants.