Williamston approves increase water/sewer tap fee, addresses problems in the park

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During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council swore in a new councilman, approved second reading on five ordinances including a zoning regulation change, parking of campers and RVs, mobile food vendors and the
purchase and sale of a small piece of property on Pelzer Avenue.

Council also approved funding of $150,000 for park improvements, several mutual aid agreements, a list of roads to be submitted for paving and increased the water/sewer tap fee.

Planning committee Chairman Marion Middleton, Jr. updated council on changes to mobile home regulations and the comprehensive plan they are working on for over a year.
He first thanked them for allowing the planning commission the structure to make the changes. “We are here to assist the city and represent the people,” Middleton said. He said planning commission members have been working with ACOG but COVID-19 protocols held things up. He said the planning commission hopes to have the comprehensive plan ready by the end of summer.
He also recommended the town consider closing Rogers St,. which he said would help the town with one less road to keep up and it would help with future development of Cherokee Rd. Plans are to eventually extend Cherokee Rd. into a four way intersection with West Main Street.

In action, Council approved second reading on an amendment to the zoning regulations for residential/commercial (RC) district to allow the same uses in the RC district that are currently permitted in the Office Commercial (OC). The change was recommended by the town planning commission and matches uses already in the RC district. The change permits almost any business type use except sexually oriented business, cell towers and tattoo parlors, which are prohibited.

Council also approved second reading on an ordinance addressing parking and storage of campers and recreational vehicles (RVs). The ordinance addresses people living in campers and RVs . The ordinance states that RVs stored or parked cannot be connected to water, sewer or septic tanks.
They also cannot have steps, porches or decks connected to them.

Council approved second reading on an ordinance regulating mobile food vending and food trucks .
The ordinance requires DHEC approvals, a town business license, a mobile food license and decal.
Food vendors must also provide proof of insurance and a litter receptacle. Mayor Rockey Burgess said the town “will establish some administrative protocols” related to the new ordinance.

Council also approved second reading on two ordianances involving the purchase, and sale, of real property on Pelzer Avenue. The properties are linked to a potential economic development related deal.

The agenda was amended to address funding for upgrades to the basketball and tennis court area of Mineral Spring Park. Mayor Burgess said, “It is something we need to invest in that will pull people in from outside the town.”
Burgess presented a proposal of using $150,000 from the hospitality tax fund to refurbish the basketball courts including resurfacing, new goals and nets. The proposal also includes refurbishing the tennis court area, which is rarely used, and converting it to a “pickleball” court.
Pickleball is a paddleball sport that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, much like a wiffle ball, with 26-40 round holes, over a net.
Burgess said the sport is very popular and will draw people from around the area. A company out of Marietta Georgia was the only company to bid on the project. Burgess said the town needs to move quickly due to weather requirements related to the milling machine that is used. He suggested approving $80,000 for the project in the 2020-21 budget (this year) and the rest in the 2021-22 budget cycle.
Burgess said the quote does not include an exterior fence which would cost about $15,000, but said “I feel we can get it done locally for less.” Newly seated councilman Lee Cole said “It seems like a lot of money,, but the park is our greatest asset. I don’t think there is anything better we can spend this money on.” Cole said the improvements are “a step in the right direction.”
Burgess made the proposal in the form of a motion with was unanimously approved by Council.

 

In new business, Council amended the water and sewer tap fee, which is currently $900 and barely covers the cost of materials to install it. According to Burgess, the current fee does not help pay for new lines and upgrades to the town’s sewer system. Burgess said the cost to upgrade for new growth is $15/gallon and an average sewer tap is based on 300 gallons per day usage, which would put the cost at $4500. He said Anderson County charges $4,000 and the builder provides the materials. The mayor proposed the town fee be increased to $2500 for a new tap, which was unanimously approved by the council.
Councilman Cole stated that he was not for new fees and taxes and didn’t like the idea of an increase, but after “studying it I think it is absolutely necessary. The fee will be on new developers and not on our people who have been paying for years.”
Burgess said the new tap fee “will go into effect immediately.”

Council approved a resolution recognizing April as Fair Housing Month.

Counicl approved a list of road project requests that the town plans to present to the Anderson County Transportation Committee (ACTC). The roads are: Attaway, Sullivan, C Street, Lee, Dove as far as Tucker, and Mattison.

Council also approved police mutual aid agreements with the City of Anderson, Anderson County, the City of Belton and the Town of West Pelzer.

Council approved an ordinance prohibiting trespassing on Town property. The ordinance allows Williamston Police Officers to place a person or persons causing a problem in Mineral Spring Park on trespass notice. If cited twice the person could face a $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail. Persons cited have the opportunity to come before council to request being removed from the notice, Mayor Burgess said.

Council also approved a related ordinance addressing the disruption of public meetings including council meetings, planning commission meetings or any duly held meeting related to the town.

Council approved an ordinance repealing a Rental Housing Regulation put in place several years ago to deal with drug dealers and other problems related to rentals. Burgess said the original ordinance placed a burden on property owners.

At the request of the Mayor, Council also approved $40,000 from the general fund to be used for road erosion and washouts. Burgess said a recent problem on Shorebrook Drive would cost $16,000 to $18,000 to repair and that another problem on Simpson Street needs to be addressed soon. Council unanimously approved the ordinance authorizing the funds. Councilman Tony Hagood commended the mayor for being proactive by monitoring for future situations and having money available to fix them.