Should Blythewood be divided into council districts?

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood Mayor Bryan Franklin suggested at the Monday night joint town council/planning commission meeting that the town’s residents might want to consider dividing the town into council districts as opposed to all the council members serving at-large as they do now.

Franklin said he had not provided the district information to his fellow council members until just before the meeting, so there was little input from the other members during his presentation.                                            

Franklin also discussed the option of adding more members to the town council, saying that more members would more easily accommodate the creation of more sub-committees.

“Subcommittees don’t have to meet in public if they don’t want to,” Franklin said. “They don’t have to post meetings or give notice,” he said, pointing out some of the advantages of subcommittees.

The SC Freedom of Information Act, Section 30-4-20, states, however, that subcommittees are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and must meet in public, post meetings and give notice, according to Media Attorney Jay Bender.

“The meetings of “public bodies” are to be preceded by notice, open to the public, with minutes kept. The definition of “public body” in the law specifically includes subcommittees,” Bender said.

Franklin said the more the town grows, the more necessary it will be to have districts and more subcommittees.

According to the 2020 census, the town has a population of 4,700. Franklin said that number is increasing with every new subdivision.

“Abney hills is expanding and will be doubling its population,” he said. “Blythewood is growing and districts will provide for more personal contact between council members and their constituents.”

Dividing the town into voting districts would require a referendum of the town’s voters.

“If we agree to do this we can put it on the November 2023 ballot and it will take effect two years later at the next election,” he said.

“If we’re going to do a referendum,” Councilman Sloan Griffin said, “then put the 75% annexation on the ballot as well.”

Councilman Donald Brock pointed out that the annexation issue would have to wait for the 2024 election and could not be voted on in the local election.

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