‘Project USA’ Incentives Clear Second Reading

WINNSBORO – With the matter breezing through its public hearing without any member of the public signing up to speak, Ordinance 652 unanimously cleared second reading during County Council’s Monday night meeting.

The ordinance, pending a final reading on Aug. 24, puts into place a Fee-in-Lieu-of-Taxes agreement (FILOT) for the economic development project code named “Project USA,” which Interim County Administrator Milton Pope said at Council’s July 27 meeting would require the company to invest $125 million in the project over five years and create 75 new jobs.

The company would be taxed at a 6 percent assessment ratio, Pope said last month, with real property not subject to reassessment. Pope also said the County would be partnering with the Town of Winnsboro to extend a natural gas line to the undisclosed project site at no cost to the company. The company would also be seeking to rezone 180 acres of the proposed project site, Pope said.

Council also gave the third and final OK to an ordinance to rezone 0.75 acres of land at 67 Rocky 1 Road in Winnsboro from Rural Residential District (RD-1) to Rural Commercial District (RC).

Councilman Billy Smith, whose district (7) includes the property, said the rezoning will allow the residents there to continue to operate their home daycare business in the face of new regulations from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

Also approved by Council was an expenditure of $35,261 for the purchase of a replacement patrol car for the Sheriff’s Office. The expenditure was recommended to Council by the Administration and Finance Committee on July 27. The 2014 Chevrolet Caprice replaces a car that was totaled last month after striking and killing two cows while responding to an emergency call.

“At least it wasn’t a horse,” District 3 Councilman Walter Larry Stewart quipped.

Regarding the mare and colt who died last June after spending a month in the custody of the County’s Animal Control services, only one citizen made comment Monday night.

Beth Jenkins (District 2) suggested Council enact a moratorium on large animals until regulations governing their care could be tightened.

“I realize that an ordinance or some sort of laws need to be done, and that takes time,” Jenkins said during Monday’s second public comment session. “I think immediately (Animal Control) should not be allowed to take in large animals and that Hoof and Paw should be called in immediately, so no more animals are treated the way that they were and the horrific deaths that they went through.”

Reviews on how Chairwoman Carolyn Robinson (District 2) handled a third and final outburst of applause during the July 27 meeting (see the July 31 edition of The Voice) were mixed Monday night.

While Rockton Thruway resident David Brandenburg called the incident, in which Robinson cleared the chambers, a “fiasco of epic proportion,” he also said he thought the Chairwoman was set up to look bad.

“It was a ruse, all planned,” Brandenburg said. “You (Robinson) got a lot of Facebook playtime on that. I’m sad to say, I think you fell for it hook, line and sinker.”

Darlene Johnson of Greenbrier, meanwhile, said she was “outraged” by Robinson’s decision to clear the chambers.

“I am certain that Roberts Rules of Order does not foster the interjection of personal privilege as was done during the Council meeting of July 27,” she said. “Too long has personal privileged been imposed on every citizen of Fairfield County.”

While Dawkins resident Jeff Schaffer said he missed the July 27 meeting, he said he hoped Council could improve its relationship with the citizens.

“Leaders don’t intimidate young children,” Schaffer said. “Leaders don’t act like dictators. Leaders don’t spew racial innuendoes. Leaders don’t incite the general public.”

Schaffer went on to criticize Council’s senior leadership, telling them, among other things, “It’s obvious to all of us you don’t know what you’re doing, why you’re up there. And sadly, you’ve been elevated beyond your authority to function.”

Responding during County Council time, District 4 Councilman Kamau Marcharia, who represents the Dawkins community, asked for specific, constructive suggestions.

“I’ve heard a lot of grandiose ideas about how we’ve failed and what we did do and what we don’t do,” Marcharia said. “I would like for these folks to give me a structural analysis of what they mean by moving forward, attach a budget to it and bring it to us and we’ll take a look at it and maybe we can move forward.”

 

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