Pelzer Council fails to approve new budget; hears update on properties

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Pelzer Town Council failed to approve first reading on the updated 2022-23 budget during their regular meeting Tuesday.
During discussion, Councilwoman Donna Ide said she wanted raises for town employees taken out of the new budget.
There was no other discussion and in a 2-3 vote, with Mayor Will Ragland and Councilwoman Alicia Tuttle voted for the budget as presented and Councilmembers Eddie Waits, Donna Ide and Mike Matthews opposed.
A special called meeting is scheduled for Tues, Aug 16 at 6 p.m. for a public hearing and final reading on the budget. However since first reading on the budget was not approved Tuesday, the budget will be voted on again next Tuesday, then another meeting scheduled for second reading and public hearing, the mayor said.
Jane Frye presented the clerk’s report. Frye said there were 36 workorders completed in July with 11 connections and 19 miscellaneous.
In the traffic report there were 79 traffic incidents, 149 contact, 60 calls for service and 5 arrests.
There will be food trucks monthly in the gym parking lot. A SnowBall vendor will be there Aug. 4, BBQ Aug 14, BBQ Aug. 23, Vampire Penquin on Aug. 31.
The town will celebrate 100 years with a Hawaiian event at the gym from 11 am to 3 pm Aug. 20. The event will include cake, juice, food trucks and a live a band.
Pelzer Town Attorney Richard Thompson updated Council on several property issues.
According to Thompson, the Church of God property being purchased by the Town has several covenants put in place by the Kendall Company when the property was deeded to the Church in 1971. Thompson said they are asking the court to release the covenant restrictions.
He said there are several reasons including not being enforceable and no time limit, they are against public policy, they can be construed in more than one way, it bars recreation use of the property and a change of circumstances. The covenants were put in place restrict use to residential and light commercial use only, no industrial use.
Thompson said the covenants on the property were originally there so the property would be used as “mill village”. “There has been no mill villages in the upstate in the last 50 to 60 years,” he said.
There are two parcels that make up one portion of the property, one about 2 acres and one about 8 acres with the church and cemetery as boundaries and the river as a boundary.
“It will never be developed as a mill village,” Thompson said. “They are not doing anymore.”
Thompson said he expects it will take four to six months to resolve the issue. Thompson said legal costs will be less than $1,000.
There are 26 acres total in the Church of God property. Mayor Ragland said the town’s intent is to use the property as part of the park swap conversion on the lagoon property.
The Town is still working out the legalities of using eminient domain to regain ownership of the “pool property”.
Thompson said the issue is in pretrial discovery and there are some questions that he needs to get answers to. He will meet with the mayor and town clerk to get that, he said.
The Town is also in the process of obtaining ownership of the “Overlook Park” property from the Pelzer Heritage Commission. The property includes 7 acres and a second piece of property which is made up of smaller pieces of property and titles that have to be researched and cleared. PHC attorney West Cox is working on getting the legal descriptions for those properties, Thompson said.
Councilman Eddie Waits asked about wording in the contract regarding restrictions.
Stephen Greer of Step Skylactics presented information on a proposal for a Back to School parade to be held in Pelzer in September. Greer said he would organize the event which would include a parade with a float contest and involving local schools, athletic teams, cheerleaders and dance squads. It would also have vendors and food vendors at the ballfields. He said there would be no cost to the town. Mayor Ragland said he would get back to the organizer.
During public comments at the beginning of the meeting, several residents expressed concerns they have about the property being sold by the PHC to a developer who plans to build town homes on it. Concerns were about the new town homes affect on the historic nature of the town and health concerns due to it having a gas station and drycleaner on it at one time. The property includes approximately 3.9 acres.
Mayor Ragland said he had talked with members of the PHC earlier this year about making the property a park and for it to be a part of the larger park property swap he is trying to “cobble” together. He said he was disappointed that the PHC is in the process of selling the property.
Council went into executive session for approximately 25 minutes.
Upon returning to open session, Councilwoman Tuttle read a statement regarding the PHC triangle property between Smyth and Anderson Streets.