Providing services one of issues in annexation

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By David Meade

Just in case you haven’t had enough annexation information, The Journal looked into a few questions that arose over the two week period leading up to the Williamston ribbon annexation which was tabled last Monday, and the Pelzer annexation referendum which was held last Tuesday.

Pelzer is one of the few towns in South Carolina that have used the 25 percent annexation by petition method but it is not the only one. According to Jeff Shaker of the SC Municipal Association, the method is the least used of the three methods available for annextion in South Carolina.

Shaker said the town of Springdale recently tried unsuccessfully to use the process in a situation that was similar to the Pelzer-Williamston annexation situation. According to Shaker, the City of West Columbia is providing utilities to the area intended to be incorporated by Springdale.

In the Williamston-Pelzer situation, Williamston supplies water to the Fred’s property and three other properties including Heatherly’s garage, Ashmore’s and a new residence on Courtney Street extension. Williamston also serves the Brookview Circle area mobile home subdivision.

There are three residences on Depot Road and all of Kendall Acres that are on Williamston water. Some Depot Road residences are served by Big Creek Water. None of the Depot Road residences have Pelzer water.

All of the properties mentioned with the exception of Brookview Circle, are included in the Pelzer annexation that passed last week.

Regarding the Williamston ribbon annexation, the following question was asked: If the ribbon annexation was approved by the town with the consent of the property owners, could the town later annex the property inside the ribbon?

According to Shaker, they could not unless one of the three annexation methods allowed by the state is used.

Technically the only way property can be annexed without the permission of a property owner is under the 75 percent method or the 25 percent method, in which those opposing annexation are in the minority.

A municipality cannont annex property by town ordinance.

A municipality cannot de-annex property easily either. According to Shaker, a municipality can only have a reduction in corporate limits by an election, with all the registered voters participating and a majority vote would decide.

Both Pelzer Mayor Steve McGregor and Williamston Mayor Mack Durham have said they intend to meet to talk about the annexation situation and related issues including how to deal with some of the properties that did not want to be included in the Pelzer annexation.

Related to the referendum to change the form of government in Williamston, Shaker said that in South Carolina, 142 municipalities are under the mayor-council form of government which is more prevalent in smaller towns. 91 of the 142 are under 1000 in population. Three are over 25,000 in population.

96 operated under the council-mayor (manager) form of government Three recently changed inlcuding Lyman, Inman and Jonesville. 30 of the 96 are under 1000 population. 3 are under 25000. There is one municipality with population under 1000 using the council-mayor (manager).

A lot of small towns with the council-mayor form of government donot have an administrator but according to Shaker, “there are plenty that do.”

Shaker also said there are a few delegating authority to the mayor by ordinance as Councilman Rockey Burgess proposed. Swansea is one of those.