Williamston Town Council approves zoning, election ordinance changes

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During their regular monthly meeting Monday, a bare quorum approved several board appointments, changes in the election ordinance and zoning fees and amended mobile home regulations. Council also heard reports on the Spring Water Festival, Envision Williamston and Police Department.

Spring Water Festival Chairman David Meade said the annual festival is celebrating 35 years and will be held Aug. 26 and 27 with food, crafts and beach music on Friday. All day events on Saturday include the return of the 5K Spring Water Run and a new event, a Mineral Spring Trail Walk.

There will be crafts, food, children’s activities. T. G. Sheppard will headline entertainment, Meade said.

He thanked the town for their support of the festival and invited the mayor and council to the opening ceremony at 9:40 a.m. on Saturday.

Bonnie McCall, a resident of E. Caroline St., spoke to council about problems on her street requiring police attention, especially with a rental house in the area.

Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor said the department will be looking at options to address the problems.

Taylor also reported stats for the department for July.

Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall reported the organization has been involved in three main projects, billboards, an electronic message board and recruiting sponsors for a Main Street Challenge.

Crandall said Envision Williamston has a vacancy on their board and invited interested persons to apply. She also said she had completed an ATAX report.

The ATAX funds were used for billboards in six locations across the upstate including three electronic boards in Pendleton, Anderson and Seneca which are advertising specific events.

Online voting for the Williamston in Focus Photography Contest has been completed and judging is underway by an expert panel, she said.

Envision Williamston is also looking into applying for a Hometown Economic Development grant through the South Carolina Municipal Association.

Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison and a representative of ANOVAPAD presented information on a cost recovery service for the fire department.

Ellison recommended the company to help with cost recovery on motor vehicle accidents in the town limits. He said they will need cooperation with the police department to make it work.

Representative Dennis Pitts said the company only bills at fault drivers insurance and that the service helps recoup some funds and cost recovery for time on scene and materials.

He said they expect to recoup $5000-$8000 per year for the Williamston Fire Department.

The company uses an Ipad app to enter information for billing.

Pitts said they do not bill uninsured motorists and they don’t bill once an insured has used up the limits.

Chief Ellison said the fire department responded to 165 motor vehicle accidents last year.

Acting on a motion by Councilman Otis Scott, seconded by Councilman Tony Hagood, council unanimously approved using the service.

Council unanimously approved the appointment of Alvin Sullivan to the town’s election commission and Beth Wilson to the Zoning and Appeals Board.

Discussion on upgrading water meters was tabled.

Council approved a lease agreement on ten acres on Mill Street with Troy Construction. The company will use the property for staging for pipeline and hydraulic testing related to the Duke Energy Lee Steam project. The compnay will pay the town $1000 monthly for the lease.

Council approved two amendments related to the town’s election ordinance.

The first brings the guidelines into line with state law. The second authorizes and regulates a general election ordinance which states books open at 10 a.m. on August 10 and close at noon on August 24.

Offices to be voted on this year include the mayor, council Ward 3 and Ward 4. The ordinance requires a petition with five percent of registered voters and a fee of $50 for council and $100 for mayor.

Council approved first reading on an amendment to the town’s manufactured home requirements. According to town attorney Lee Cole, the ordinance requires that any new mobile home must be approved by the planning commission. Several sections of the code were consolidated into the state code. Existing homes cannot be added onto or be moved and new homes must meet certain guidelines and the character of the neighborhood, Cole said.

Council reluctantly approved funding for indigent defense fund. An amendment to the town’s budget was required to fund the $4547.19 required by the state to help fund public defenders for the 10 Circuit Court.

Mayor Durham said council strongly opposes the requirement for municipalities to help with funding because a portion of ticket money is already used for that purpose and it was funded by the state until recently.

Council unanimously approved a resolution setting a fee schedule for applications and requests for zoning. Fees include $50 for a mobile home, $150 for a zoning change. A filing fee of $150 will also apply for any issue required to go before the zoning board of appeals.

Council then went into an executive session to discuss a proposed economic development project. No additional information was provided.

Upon returning to open session there was no mention of the subject discussed in the behind closed doors session.

Mayor Durham announced that a special called meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 8 to approve second reading on the town’s election ordinance.