Council Moves on Zoning Error

WINNSBORO – A plot of land on River Road near Lake Wateree that fell through the County’s rezoning cracks back in 2011 took its first tentative steps toward being returned to its intended use Monday night when County Council passed first reading on an ordinance to reclassify the property to B-1 (limited business district).

The 2.37 acres at 4361 River Road had been rezoned from R-1 (single-family residential) to B-1 in 2004, Interim County Administrator Milton Pope said, and was purchased in August of 2011 by Harry M. Parker Jr. Shortly thereafter, Council began rezoning property across the county as part of its new land management ordinance. When Council approved the new land management ordinance in December of 2011, Parker’s property was reverted back to its original R-1 designation.

“I don’t think the county intended for that to happen,” Pope said. “There were no improvements on the property, so it was looked at as undeveloped and it got picked up with other zoning overlays to restrict commercial zoning development around the lake.”

Winnsboro attorney John Fantry, who represents Parker in the rezoning matter, said he was encouraged to see Council willing to correct an obvious oversight.

“(This ordinance) indicates to me that when a mistake is made, and one that is not intentional, our County government will proceed to move forward with means to correct it,” Fantry said. “I applaud you and I hope we would do that for anyone who finds himself in a similar situation.”

Councilman David Brown (District 7) asked if there were not some safety mechanism that the County could put in place to allow staff or administration to correct similar errors, thereby alleviating the necessity of an aggrieved party having to go through the rezoning process.

“The Planning Commission or either the Planning Department could approve it and let somebody start using it, instead of us slowing an individual down 90 days going through the process,” Brown suggested.

But Pope said that even if a zoning classification is made in error, the County was legally bound to go through the required readings and public hearing process, allowing the public the right to comment on any proposed changes. However, Pope added, any fees associated with applying for rezoning in the event of such an error would be refunded by the County.

Council also gave the OK to replace six vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office, at a cost of $188,511.88. While Pope said that the funds had been budgeted by Council, he noted that the Finance Committee, which had made the recommendation to purchase the vehicles, had also recommended adjusting the budget by $8,511.15 to fill the order. The vehicles were state contract vehicles, Pope said, and were procured through the bidding process.

The purchase of a new control panel for the Detention Center was put on hold, Pope said, after all the bids for the item came back over the $200,000 approved by Council. The panel will have to be re-bid and come back to Council through committee, Pope said.

Pope also informed Council that the architectural/engineering firm of Godwin, Mills & Caywood had been retained to begin inspections on Drawdy Park, where a 50-foot section of retaining wall, constructed by Four Brothers Construction under the supervision of S2 Engineering, collapsed in January. Pope said the firm will inspect other buildings and projects completed by S2 in the county as well. The County will also begin procurement on a scope of work to address safety issues at the Dutchman Creek pedestrian bridge, Pope said.

The County’s $3.5 million recreation plans will officially have some shepherding, as Pope announced the County had retained the services of Kenneth Simmons & Associates (KSA) to act as consultants. KSA will review Council’s master plan of proposed recreation projects to determine costs, maintenance and staffing. Estimates will then be reviewed by Council and plans will be trimmed accordingly, Pope said.

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