Master plan, land swap to help with economic development

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By David Meade

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved a Community Master Plan, set regulations and fees for use of the Municipal Center and authorized a property transfer that will aid in a new business locating in a long empty building in Williamston.

The Master Plan is a guide for economic development, design and planning for the future of Williamston. Input received from the community along with market studies of the business, retail and other assets of the community, were used to come up with recommendations included in the plan. (See separate story)

The plan will be implemented by the town through the Envision Williamston program.

Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall reported the organization is working on economic development, infrastructure and community engagement.

The EW Board was recently presented with an orientation packet and will hold a retreat meeting next week, she said. Crandall said EW helped the Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) with an online survey for input into their name change. GWBA members recently decided to change the name to the Palmetto Business Association.

A new Dinning and Shopping guide produced by the EW Promotion Committee is now available for visitors, Crandall said. The guide includes a list of restaurants and retail businesses in the area along with a map.

Crandall said she has been in discussion with a property owner about the opening of a new coffee shop. One of the goals of the Envision Williamston program is economic development and business recruitment.

In a related matter, later in the meeting council approved a land swap that will allow the new business to have a drive thru.

Council approved transfer of a 20 ft. strip of land and a 10 ft. strip of land at 208 West Main St.

Mayor Durham said the transfer of the properties gives the town more property on the back soccer field side of the building and allows room for a drive around and drive thru for the new business.

The building, which has been vacant for years, is located at the depot/soccer field area and will house a new coffee shop.

In other business, Council approved second reading on an ordinance providing guidelines on use of the Municipal Center facilities.

Council approved second reading on a prowling ordinance which gives the police department more latitude in dealing with prowling situations.

Council approved renaming recently constructed Ridge Court Extension to Brock Lane.

Council approved the installlation of eight street lights along the new Brock Lane roadway into Gatewood Subdivision. Duke Energy will provide the lights at a cost of $4847.

Council approved funding of up to $2500 for a National Guard reunion to be held at the former armory now known as the Artory. The facility is managed by the Palmetto Area Cultural Arts Center. The funding will be used for food and entertainment for the event.

Councilman Rockey Burgess, a former member of the guard unit, made the request which was approved 3-0 with Burgess abstaining from the vote.

Council unanimously approved a safety resolution.

Councll set the date for the July 4th Freedom Celebration to be held on Saturday, July 2.

Council unanimously approved a resolution setting the rules and cost fee structure for use of Municipal Center facilities.

Following a presentation by planner Tee Coker of Arnett Muldrow and Associates at the start of the meeting, Council unanimously adopted the new Community Master Plan as presented.

Durham said by council approving the plan as an ordinance, it will have more staying power. Durham said council will have additional discussion about the plan at their work session on Tuesday, March 29th at 7 pm

Council then went into an executive session to “receive legal advice concerning state law on roads.” Mayor Durham declined to provide any additional information as to what road or other issue the town was considering that required legal advice from the town’s attorney.

SC Freedom of Information laws allow legal advice to be presented in secret sessions if related to contract negotiation, a pending claim or an adversarial matter, however it does not provide a general reason such as the one given for the session.

During public comments at the start of the meeting, Gatewood resident Barry Sammons asked about the status of an ordinance address ing 18 wheelers on streets in the Gatewood subdivision and whether signs were going to be put up.

Pam Childress said she and other residents are having drainage problems on McDonald Avenue and that her water meter has been covered up.

During the reports portion of the meeting, Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor presented Police Department stats from February (See separate story).

Chief Taylor said the police department is working with the fire department to make changes to an emergency backup plan for the town.

Councilman David Harvell was absent due to sickness.