West Pelzer hears audit report, tables mobile home variances

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By Stan Welch

During their meeting Monday, West Pelzer Town Council approved changes to their employee handbook, addressed mobile home zoning and received a preliminary report on the Town’s audit for the last fiscal year. A representative of Payne, White & Schmutz, the auditing firm, informed the Council that the Town had received an unmodified opinion, or the best opinion available.

Councilman Johnnie Rogers asked if the firm could be provided with monthly figures to assist in monitoring the town’s financial performance. Mayor Blake Sanders explained that such an arrangement would be a significant expansion of the firm’s duties, and would be an additional cost.

The decision was made to instead provide the firm with the minutes of each Council meeting, which would reflect most significant financial actions taken, allowing for a less detailed monitoring by the firm.

The mayor also informed the Council that a new body camera policy for the police department has been approved, and grant funds for the installation of in car cameras has been received. Those cameras should be installed and operational by the end of March.

The police departments of West Pelzer and Williamston have reached a tentative agreement by which West Pelzer would obtain 2006 Crown Victoria police cruiser from Williamston for a thousand dollars; to be funded by the sale of a 1996 Crown Vic cruiser that is no longer of any real value to the department.

West Pelzer Council approved the transaction, contingent upon approval by the Williamston Town Council, which also met on Monday night.

The Council also considered and approved additions to the Town’s employee handbook which tighten the restrictions on personal use of cell phones and other electronic devices issued for town use.

“As it stands without these additions if we learned that an employee used a device to watch seventeen hours of movies while at work, we would have no means by which to discipline them, or even determine who was required to pay the costs of such behavior,” said Sanders.

The Council also approved an amendment to the town ordinance concerning public intoxication to include prescription drugs, in addition to alcohol.

The Council then addressed a request for several variances from the zoning ordinance as it relates to mobile homes in the town limits. The property in question, 8 Stephanie Lane, is owned by Piedmont Apartments, LLC which has recently renovated a double wide that it wants to place on the vacant lot. The company also owns the adjacent lot, and plans to adjust that property line to reduce the needed setback variance to five feet on each side.

Last November, the planning commission recommended approval of the variances, but some area residents have reportedly expressed disapproval. Councilman Jimmy Jeanes said he has heard from a number of them expressing their disapproval, but Councilman Jim Riddle pointed out that none of them bothered to come to the meeting to object.

Mayor Sanders also stated that approximately half of the names contained on a petition opposing the mobile home placement were disqualified.

Councilman Donnie Jeanes commended the company’s representative for the approach they have taken both to the renovation of the mobile home, as well as to the process of seeking the Council’s approval. “But we just don’t want all these people showing up here and giving us a hard time for letting you do this.”

Sanders moved to table the motion until next month, to give the company a chance to organize a meeting with the opposing residents. “But we will vote on this, yay or nay, at the next meeting,” said Sanders. The motion to table was unanimously approved.

Sanders also reminded Council that garbage pickup day by Waste Industries has been changed to Tuesday. Customers were informed by mail in January.

Councilman Rogers and Police Chief Mike Clardy reported on their inquiry into the purchase of ballistic vests for the police department.

The information was presented for review. No action will be taken until later in the spring when some funding issues for the supporting entities will be resolved. “As of right now, I could not recommend spending one penny of this money yet. Once the grant funds are officially released, then we can proceed,” said Clardy.