City razing derelict homes, enforcing codes, fully staffing Town boards

The Town removed a tree from this South Zion St. house and will remove the house next.

WINNSBORO – Code enforcement and redevelopment were ready topics during the April 4 Town of Winnsboro council meeting.

 Still basking in the community interest shown during a Town Hall meeting attended by more than 80 residents two weeks ago, Town officials talked about having more open discussions with the community in the near future.

“I was overwhelmed at the response,” Town Administrator Jason Taylor said. “This shows the public is really interested in these redevelopment efforts.  This building was packed with standing room only, and the comments overall were very constructive,” he said.  “Again, this shows the interest is there in this [revitalization] project.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Demetrius Chatman agreed.

“I received good insight from the meeting,” he said. “We need the residents’ input.”

To that end, Taylor talked about the ongoing work being done to clean up derelict homes in some of the neighborhoods.

Taylor reported a fair amount of money was budgeted in-house for demolition and removal of dilapidated houses.  He said the work will be bid out to get the best possible price. 

“Several properties have been nailed down with the focus primarily on South Zion Street,” he said. “We removed a tree from one house, and the house will go next.  There are two other houses right next to it.

“The County owns one of the houses and the Town owns a tri-plex along with the property with the downed tree,” Assistant Town Manager Chris Clauson added. “There are also a number of houses on Cemetery Street [to be taken down.]  Maybe a couple of these can be bundled together. Hopefully, we’ll be able to proceed shortly with the county’s Zion Hill project,” Clauson said.  “A contract was signed this past week for street lights in Zion Hill and Fortune Springs Park.”

Scout Opportunities

Taylor also talked about the interest in Fairfield County being generated by the Scout announcement, including from housing developers and large companies.

“This is a great opportunity for the Town to expand its utilities and grow,” he said. “But it also stresses our capacity.  In the near future, there could be a shortage of sewer capacity.  Only 500,000 gallons per day remains currently.  Once you get to a certain percentage [80%], the Town would then have to be in planning stages to provide a new sewer plant or additional sewer capacity because DHEC requires this.  These are just things to keep in mind as we move forward.”  

 ‘Taking into consideration input from the public meeting,” Taylor said, “we are starting to look at how to adjust our ordinances to make sure the growth coming this way from Scout is the kind of growth we want and that will benefit our community.  Some of the ordinances will be crafted to change some of the existing things as far as zoning to make sure we are prepared for growth.”

Fully Staffed Boards

Clauson also suggested that all of the Town’s Boards and Commissions should be brought up to full staffing. He said more volunteers are needed if the Town enacts a Historic Preservation Ordinance to save the Town’s historic properties.

“As part of this, there must be a Historic Review Board,” Clauson said, “which will be another five individuals needed.  These individuals must include:  a real estate agent, an architect or landscape architect, a historian, an engineer and one other.  These will be more difficult to fill, but it does not necessarily have to be a Town resident and can be a County resident who is passionate about serving. 

“So, there are three vacancies on the Planning Commission, one vacancy on the Zoning Board of Appeals and if we are going to pursue Historic Preservation, we’ll need five for that board,” Clauson said.

McMeekin stated that some of the faces in the meeting last week are possibilities.

Sewer Plant Estimates

Taylor stated there has been another meeting of the Fairfield Joint Water Authority and discussion with the engineer to try to firm up a final date for him to get the cost estimates on various options available to get a new sewer plant.  This would include where it will be located and what type of process will be used. 

“We’re in a holding pattern until we get this, but the engineer has been given a firm date for this information to be delivered.”  [Since that meeting, the engineer has notified water authority officials that the estimates are being delayed until May.]

Other Business

In other business, council approved a new auditing firm for next year’s audit. Of the four auditing firms responding to this request Mauldin & Jenkins was the recommendation to council by the Finance Committee because they are a larger firm and have experience auditing towns with utilities.  The second choice, Love Bailey, did not have that experience. 

Taylor stated the cost for Mauldin & Jenkins is $36,500, for Love Bailey is $22,500. Council voted 5-0 to hire Mauldin & Jenkins.

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