Town OKs first vote on Teacher Village

FCSD Board Chair William Frick discusses a zoning map with FCSD Education Foundation president Dr. Sue Rex and fellow board member Henry Miller following Town Council meeting Tuesday night. | Barbara Ball

WINNSBORO – After the Teacher Village property request for R3 zoning flew through the Winnsboro Planning Commission faster than a speeding bullet, the feat was duplicated at the Town Council meeting Tuesday evening.

There was no discussion at either meeting, only a motion in favor and a unanimous vote to approve.

“This will be the first residential teacher village in the state,” Sue Rex, president of the Fairfield County Education Foundation said, addressing Council. “We are asking you to rezone this 22 acres from C-2, commercial, to R3, residential zoning. [The project] will cost $3.6 million, and the developer is putting all that money into it. The developer will then own the land and rent out the homes but only to teachers in the district,” Rex said.

“If there are several homes not rented to teachers, they will be available to help recruit law enforcement and first responders. This will contribute to the economic stimulus of the Winnsboro community,” Rex told council members.

To make the project a reality, however, the school district wants a multi-county business park agreement in place and a seven-year, $600,000 property tax abatement for the developer. Both require County Council approval.

At a special meeting in November between county and school district officials, there seemed to be little common ground. Citing a litany of potential legal issues, county attorney Tommy Morgan called attention to a 2010 attorney general opinion that raised doubts as to whether the county would be protected if litigation were filed over the Teacher Village.

“It does give some cause for concern in my mind whether the special source revenue credit agreement would be the best way to accomplish what I understand the school district is wanting to do,” Morgan said.

Dr. J. R. Green, district superintendent, brushed off concerns about potential litigation.

But procedural and zoning issues represent added concerns for the county.

Former Council Chairman Billy Smith said the county hasn’t received any formal requests from the developer, only from the Fairfield County Schools’ Education Foundation, a proxy of the school district.

Smith suggested a list of conditions he’d like met regarding the Teacher Village:

  • An agreement with the developer to indemnify Fairfield County in the Teacher Village project.
  • An agreement to cover Fairfield’s legal expenses incurred in association with the Teacher Village.
  • A legal description of the Teacher Village property.
  • The Town of Winnsboro agreeing to place the property into the multicounty park since it’s in the town.

Town Council will have a public hearing and final vote on the rezoning of the property on March 5.

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