Winnsboro Seeks Resolution with Blythewood Developer

WINNSBORO – After sequestering themselves in executive session for more than 90 minutes, Town Council Tuesday night took no action on a potential legal battle over water that was promised in 2008 to a developer of property on Rimer Pond Road in Blythewood, instead accepting items from the closed-door session as information.

In 2008, Sycamore Development, LLC had planned to develop a 300-home subdivision on three parcels of land along Rimer Pond Road and obtained from Winnsboro a Capacity and Willingness to Serve letter for the development of 250 residential lots. The water taps were to be prepaid by Sycamore once the water line went in on Rimer Pond Road. That water line was completed and accepted by Winnsboro in July of 2009, but Sycamore never prepaid for any taps.

The subdivision never materialized, and two of the three parcels have since been sold off. Sycamore still holds a 31.23-acre parcel at 502 Rimer Pond Road that it also wants to unload but cannot, according to documents obtained by The Voice, because Winnsboro allegedly refuses to enter into a Capacity and Willingness to Serve agreement with prospective buyers.

Now Sycamore is considering legal action, documents indicate, unless Winnsboro makes good on its 2008 agreement. Sycamore is requesting 107 residential water taps, which is the equivalent of nearly 43,000 gallons a day, plus an additional 25,000 gallons a day for residential or commercial use. The extra 25,000 gallons per day would only come into play if the City of Columbia refuses to provide water to the property. Winnsboro would charge $1,350 for each tap.

“In 2008 we had promised them water and they never did anything with it,” Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy said after Tuesday night’s meeting. “Now they want water and they wanted an answer rather quickly.”

Gaddy said he could not discuss pending or potential litigation, but said it was the Town’s intent to work out a deal. Documents state that Sycamore wanted a response in writing by July 15.

“We will meet with them (Sycamore), meet with Columbia and see what our options are,” Gaddy said.

Baggy Pants

Council also took no action on an ordinance to prohibit the wearing of baggy pants within the Town limits. Gaddy said a first reading on the ordinance would be taken up at Council’s next meeting on July 15.

Franchise Fee

A resolution to Winnsboro’s water franchise agreement with the Town of Blythewood, which was suddenly and unexpectedly terminated by Blythewood Town Council in April, remains in limbo. Although discussed in executive session, Council only accepted that discussion as information when they returned to open session.

Blythewood’s resolution to terminate the agreement came six years ahead of schedule, as the contract between the two towns is binding until 2020. Winnsboro has approximately 750 taps in the Blythewood area and has been paying the Town of Blythewood a franchise fee of around $13,000 a year for the use of Blythewood’s rights of way. Termination of the agreement, should it stand, would end those payments.

Personnel

Council voted 3-0 to lift the Town’s hiring freeze in order for the Gas, Water & Sewer Department to fill three vacancies.