Members present were Anthony Mizzell, Greg Pearce, Doris Corley, Joyce Dickerson, Valerie Hutchinson, Damon Jeter, Paul Livingston, Joseph McEachern, Michael Montgomery, and Bernice Scott. Kit Smith was absent.
Chairwoman Bernice Scott called the meeting to order at 6 pm. New members Joyce Dickerson, Valerie Hutchinson, Michael Montgomery, and Damon Jeter were officially welcomed and sworn in at an earlier reception. Paul Livingston was designated to give the invocation but deferred to Greg Pearce who gave a prayer he had recited earlier in the day at the reception. Livingston led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Election of new officers was the first order of business. Livingston nominated Anthony Mizzell for chairman and this motion was seconded by Greg Pearce, who asked for the nominations to be closed and Mizzell be declared chairman by unanimous proclamation.
Joe McEachern asked for a vote to be taken and was the only one opposed to Mizzell being elected chairman.
Doris Corley nominated Pearce for vice chairman. No other nominations were offered. McEachern also voted against Pearce. Before seats were selected, Livingston made a motion to allow Kit Smith, who was absent, to be included in seat selection.
New member Damon Jeter asked the council to remember the new members and extend any special courtesy to them as well. Scott pointed out how busy all members were and how important it was to be at the first meeting. She said absent members shouldn’t be allowed to pick seats. Livingston withdrew his motion. As things turned out, Smith ended up with the seat she wanted.
A presentation was made to Joan Brady for her long service as a council member and vice chairperson last year. The entire council shared the presentation.
Another presentation was made to Bernice Scott for her outstanding leadership during the last year.
In his first official act, Mizzell used personal privilege to recognize several dignitaries in the audience; Among those recognized were Thelma Tillis and Leon Howard.
No one signed up for citizen’s input, and the agenda was adopted with one addition, a public hearing for JETA bonds. The minutes of past meetings were also approved. The county administrator brought up the Land Development Code in his report. He told members an updated summary was delivered to each of them and asked if anyone had questions. No one did, although Scott was interested in the progress of information cards to be mailed to landowners. She asked for council members to be shown the cards before they were mailed.
The clerk of council reported on two upcoming conferences: the 2005 NACO legislative conference and the 18th annual SCAC mid–year conference. The only public hearing item was the question of JETA bonds added to the agenda. No one signed up to speak. The council approved the bond issue, after being assured there was no liability to the county. Giving their approval was just for show. However, Jeter chose to publicly abstain from voting on the issue. Some people are born politicians.
Two consent items were approved. One was a third reading ordinance to establish a Hospitality Tax Committee. The other item was a second reading approval on general obligation bonds for the sheriff’s department.
Cary McSwain mentioned earlier he wanted to further discuss the Sandhills rezoning item. He told council that county attorney Larry Smith had advised him the council could change the zoning of Sandhills at the request of the developer, with one public hearing and one reading. Scott made a motion to defer this ordinance until January 18 so the public hearing could be properly advertised.
The Land Development Code map amendment was also deferred at Scott’s request, so the council could study it at their retreat and discuss it at the next council meeting.
An application for locating a community residential care facility in an unincorporated area of the county was approved unanimously and without comment.
Rules and Appointments
McEachern reported two committee vacancies which needed to be advertised: one on the Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals and one on the Planning Commission. There were also appointments to be dealt with. An Appearance Commission vacancy hasn’t made it out of committee yet, so it was delayed. Two slots were filled on the Hospitality Tax Committee by Holli S. Emore and Robert G. Tunell. Larry McBride was re–elected to the Planning Commission by an 8–2 vote.
A long discussion about a vacancy on the Richland Hospital Board was finally solved when Larry Smith gave a legal opinion on the question. Until he spoke, two sides were jockeying for position in a near-meaningless issue. After he gave his legal answer, the question was solved. If he had spoken earlier, the rhetoric could have been saved for another time, and we all could have saved 15 minutes of our lives.
In an interesting side note, newcomers Michael Montgomery and Damon Jeter got involved in the discussion, on opposing sides. Both men spoke more in their first meeting than Doris Corley has in the last year.
Joe Stewart, who lives on Kennerly Road, spoke during citizen’s input. Stewart said he wasn’t against development or new schools but was concerned about the state of several roads in the area he lives in. He said the road system was dangerous, and the people in charge had not done a good job of establishing an infrastructure to keep up with the development and increase in traffic. Stewart declared Richland County’s roads to be the worst in the south. He said Kennerly, Hollingshed, Koon, and Eleazor were the four in need of repair most.
After Mr. Stewart spoke, Scott reminded the new chairman the county council couldn’t do everything, and citizens needed to be steered to their state representatives when the state was involved, as in this case. Mizzell reminded Scott all government was responsible to the people and they needed to work in conjunction with the state government when necessary.
After motion period, the new chairman adjourned his first meeting and didn’t drop the gavel.