By Stan Welch
The contorted and sometimes confusing annexation fest that appeared to be finally winding down took an odd turn in the last few days. Pelzer voted this week on whether to annex the entire Pelzer voting precinct into the town, increasing the tax base; and, eventually, allowing for the town to provide some services to its citizens.
But that vote was almost disrupted when the town of Williamston and a handful of Pelzer property owners with an ear for options met Monday night at a special called meeting of the Williamston Town Council. The meeting was called to allow the final approval of a controversial “ribbon annexation” of thirteen properties that lie between Pelzer and Williamston. Council had given first approval at their regular meeting last week.
The unusual annexation method annexes only a ten foot strip of the properties included. The properties are all contiguous to four properties annexed by Williamston last year in anticipation of the rumored construction of a WalMart. The properties run along Hwy. 20 to Hwy. 8 in Pelzer, and if annexed in their entirety, would take in the old Sky City shopping center as well as the Mexican restaurant at the five way traffic light.
The special called meeting was convened and the Council immediately voted to go into executive session with all the property owners present. After an hour and eighteen minutes in private consultation, the Council reconvened. Immediately Mayor Durham made a motion to table the second reading of the ribbon annexation until the Council’s next regular meeting. The motion was quickly seconded, but before it could be voted on, town attorney Lee Cole intervened.
“Mayor, just to make sure this motion achieves what the Council wants to achieve, you might want to amend your motion to allow this matter to be brought up at a special called meeting before your next regular meeting.” Mayor Durham agreed and the amended motion was unanimously approved.
A separate motion which was up for first reading, and which would annex the property of Life Journey Church in Pelzer was also unanimously tabled as well.
Speaking with The Journal later, Mayor Durham intimated that perhaps things had happened to suddenly and too close to the proposed Pelzer annexation vote. But he said he does not consider the possibility to be out of the question. “Once we learn the results of the Pelzer vote Tuesday night, I think both the private property owners who want to detach their properties from Pelzer and the Williamston town council would like to open a dialog with the town of Pelzer that hopefully could achieve a positive outcome.”