City Seeks Rimer Pond Road Easements

BLYTHEWOOD – The Residents on the south side of Rimer Pond Road received letters this week from the City of Columbia offering them $1 for at least a 20-foot permanent easement across the front of their properties to install a 48-inch water main along the length of the road. The line will eventually extend to the Kershaw County line and loop back to Northeast Columbia.

About half of the road’s residents received letters signed by Hector Garcia and the others received letters signed by Trey Sturkie. Both are Right-of-Way Agents for the Real Estate Division of the City of Columbia Department of Utilities and Engineering.

The letters contained drawings depicting the location and dimensions of the easements on the properties residents were being asked to grant to the City of Columbia.

Garcia met with several residents including Trey Hair and Doug Skroback on Monday morning after Hair called to request more information. Garcia told Hair and Skroback that the property easements would not be considered ‘takings,’ but rather permanent and exclusive easements that would eventually be subject to condemnation in the event the City was not able to reach a settlement with the property owners.

Documentation accompanying the letter explained that while the property owners would still own the 20-foot easements, the City would have certain rights including that of ingress and egress at all times for the purpose of constructing, operating, reconstructing and maintaining a water main and with the right to remove shrubbery, trees and other growth and improvements from the easement and construction area.

“That 20-foot setback is where you cannot put any permanent structure, any buildings,” Garcia said. “It’s designed and reserved for right of way.” Garcia told the residents that the City could at any time remove any plantings or improvements or future plantings or improvements from the easement.

Asked about financial considerations for the easements, particularly those with brick gates, fencing and expensive landscaping, Garcia said that would be determined on a case by case basis. Both Garcia and Jason Shaw, manager of the project (when he was interviewed by The Voice in June of 2013) said representatives for the City would meet with property owners at a location on the road before they would begin asking residents to sign easements. Asked why this had not been done, Garcia replied that he did not know.

The letters received last week stated that the water line was for the purpose of providing adequate fire protection and water quality near the Town of Blythewood and that it is a high priority project that the City of Columbia has targeted to complete as soon as possible. But in a phone interview in early January of 2013, Joey Jaco, an employee in Water and Engineering Department, told The Voice that the purpose of the proposed water line was to improve water pressure and flow services to Northeast Columbia.

“It is also our intent to provide water service to the properties along Rimer Pond Road,” Jaco said.

Jaco also said those residents who agree to receive Columbia water must sign a covenant to be annexed into the City of Columbia should their property ever become contiguous with the City. Some residents on the road already receive Winnsboro water.

A meeting of the road’s residents is planned for 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 15 at The Village Church, 574 Rimer Pond Road in Blythewood. For information, call 786-7754.

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