By Stan Welch
Following a public hearing that lasted almost twice as long as it was scheduled for, Pelzer Town Council voted to adopt a block of Anderson County ordinances governing such matters as manufactured homes and parks; litter; junkyards and open storage; and weeds and rank vegetation. The various ordinances all fall under the category of the county’s building codes and regulations, including unfit dwellings.
As usual, the public hearing turned into a town hall forum, with members of the audience making complaints about specific situations, as well as expressing concerns about just how strictly the laws would be enforced, and the nature of the charges.
One woman stated that there was widespread concern in town about “letting the county just come in and start writing tickets.”
Pelzer Mayor Roger Scott reassured the crowd that “enforcement would not be fire and brimstone.” He also explained that those making complaints would make them through the town clerk, and not directly to the county.
Continuing confusion over whether the ordinances are criminal or civil in nature was addressed by town attorney Jimmy King.
One latecomer questioned whether or not the council was comfortable with the idea of someone being charged with a felony for not cutting their grass. King explained that none of the ordinances reach the level of felonies, but are at most misdemeanors.
King also informed the crowd of approximately thirty people that, if adopted, the ordinances will go into effect sometime in October or November. Those details are still being worked out in talks with the county.
(For other as yet unresolved aspects of the agreement between the town and the county, see the related story elsewhere in this issue of The Journal.)
Several citizens questioned whether the laws would apply to everyone; everyone including the mayor, the town, the Pelzer Heritage Commission and several other groups or classes.
The phrase ‘good old boy system’ was mentioned several times.
Mayor Scott and King assured the audience that the law would be equally applied, with the exception of properties over ten acres, which would be subject to agricultural considerations.
Complaints were heard about damages done to property, both private and public, during the recent sewer upgrade; as well as about people using recreational vehicles as residences.
What several of those present clearly see as the unsatisfactory performance of the town’s single maintenance employee also came up; most often in the context of overgrown trees and other vegetation.
Scott defended the performance of Mark Vickery, saying that he has been going around and cutting back vegetation in the areas pointed out to be problematic. “I have ridden the town streets with him myself,” Scott said. “But he’s only one person, and hopefully, these ordinances will help with that situation.”
Scott eventually adjourned the public hearing and the council soon convened in a regular session, where they voted unanimously to adopt the ordinances.
Also during that meeting, town clerk Cheryl Boudreau reported that the community building, the old hospital and the gym had all been treated by an exterminator at a cost of three hundred dollars. She also reported an open project related to a PARD grant used to repair and improve the community building. That project has not been closed out, and she sought bids from the current contractor for adding additional lighting and a porch at the secondary entrance. The bid also included repairs from recent storms. The bid was for $4500.
By Stan Welch