On Mill Property options
By Stan Welch
One obvious conclusion resulting from an informal gathering of Pelzer preservationists and county staff and officials last week was the realization that annexation will play a key role in future efforts to preserve and restore Pelzer and its history.
County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, along with county administrator Rusty Burns and county economic development director Burris Nelson traveled to Pelzer last Wednesday to share ideas and tour the various locations. Larry Coker, Dianne Lollis and other members of the Pelzer Heritage Preservation Commission were on hand, as well.
Coker stressed that the majority of the 72 acres controlled by the Commission is very attractive land for future development. Two thirds of that acreage is along the Saluda River. There are also dozens of miniscule plots whose main, if not sole, use would be to make it possible for adjacent sites to be annexed, due to their being contingent to town property.
Among suggestions for future development under consideration are shops and dining at the lower mill site, and a possible senior retirement and residential center at the upper mill site. Other possibilities are also still on the table, and any development is a good ways down the road, said Coker.
First, the mindset of the people in Pelzer needs to change, he pointed out. “When you mention annexation, people start yelling that annexation means taxes. They go crazy, but really, why should Pelzer be any different from the other small towns in Anderson County? You get what you pay for. A larger tax base allows for more services. Services aren’t free,” he said.
Some annexation of individual properties has already begun. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.) Coker good naturedly acknowledged the ironic fact that the town hall is currently not in the town limits. “We plan to correct that as soon as we can”, he said.
In addition to development via construction, all involved seem to agree that walking and nature trails along the river, perhaps to connect with similar trails in Williamston, offer a great deal. Burns stressed that value, saying,” People are rediscovering rivers nowadays, and to have access to them, especially in such proximity to Greenville, is a real asset. If you could package housing, dining, and a vigorous retail sector, the potential would be enormous.”
Upon hearing Coker’s proposal that the Commission consider cutting some timber along the river to open up the land, as well as generate some additional revenue, Councilwoman Wilson quickly offered the services of the county forester to help determine the best approach to that project. She and Burns both recommended that bids be sought and accepted to insure the best deal.
Burns and Nelson both assured the Commission that the County will assist in any efforts to obtain grants for the Commission.