2005-09-09 / Government / Neighborhood

Richland County Council Meeting • September 6, 2005 • 6 pm

By Mike Cox

Roll Call

Members present were Anthony Mizzell, Doris Corley, Joyce Dickerson, Valerie Hutchinson, Damon Jeter, Paul Livingston, Joseph McEachern, Michael Montgomery, Greg Pearce, Bernice Scott, and Kit Smith.

Getting Started

Chairman Anthony Mizzell called the meeting to order at 6 pm. Mike Montgomery gave the Invocation, then led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. The agenda was approved with minor changes.

Citizens Input

Evelyn Bush spoke against the acquisition of land easement by the conservation commission. Bush said the item had been hurried through the committee and now was being voted on too quickly. She said the public had no idea what had happened and had not had enough time to respond and question this item.

The minutes from two previous meetings were approved without change.

Resolutions

Resolutions were presented to James Mullis and Lorraine Conrad for their long and distinguished service to Richland County, mostly through their service as Conservation District commissioners.

Conrad said it had been her pleasure to serve the county for 12 years and pointed to recent events as evidence of what uncontrolled water can do. Mullis said his time on the committee had been a labor of love.

The county attorney listed six things needing to be discussed in executive session. It looks like a long night. County administrator McSwain gave a status report on the USC Technology Park Garage agreement. The group had met and decided to have more meetings. Eventually, something will be done.

The farmer’s market is moving at a more rapid pace. The MOU has been signed, $4.5 million worth of land has been purchased, and tenants have signed leases. From Richland With Love, a charitable organization made up of county employees, is sponsoring a fund raiser this Friday to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims. The group is also trying to organize a statewide adopt a county program to further assist areas hit hardest by the storm. I also heard about a young school kid named Johnson who had saved $52 and planned on giving it to the Katrina Relief effort.

The clerk of council told council members she would be glad to collect any early donations from them in case she couldn’t find them on Friday. She also gave details of the upcoming Chamber of Commerce Gala.

The Agenda

Public Hearings were opened and closed on five items. No one signed to speak about any of them. A long list of consent items were approved. The first item requiring discussion was a rezoning request from Steadfast Unmovable Ministries. Joyce Dickerson requested the item be deferred. Evidently, the group didn’t move fast enough to provide the council with adequate information.

An ordinance for public works addressing infrastructure continued to require much discussion in the council. Chairman Damon Jeter said his committee recommended a two year warranty with a 40% bond on new roads in subdivisions. Dickerson asked for an amendment reducing the time to one year. Kit Smith said homebuilders were having trouble meeting standards set by the committee, but the council needed to protect the integrity of the roads. Smith also pointed out how costly inspections are.

She suggested giving the builders a choice. A four year warranty with a 30% bond, or a two year warranty with a 20% bond and the builder pays for the inspection. This gives the homebuilders some leeway and helps the county with inspection costs.

Montgomery said the council needed to work with builders, but one year isn’t enough time for some road problems to surface. Livingston asked for a play–by– play of what had happened so far. McEachern said the county needed to be sure it can maintain its roads.

Jeter reiterated the committee recommendation of two years and 40% bond. Dickerson withdrew her amendment. Smith’s substitute motion failed 5–6. Livingston asked if anyone knew what the cost of an inspection was. No one replied. The committee recommendation was approved.

The Committees

The A&F committee mentioned an ordinance to establish a bond review committee. The Economic Development committee asked for incentives for Buck Enterprises, and consideration of an ordinance authorizing a multi–county park agreement for Metso Minerals.

Marcus B. Sizemore was appointed as a code enforcement officer for Richland County. McEachern gave notice of vacancies on the Accommodations Tax Advisory committee, the Board of Assessment Control, and Board of Zoning Adjustment and Appeals. He also announced the appointment of Ryan Nevius to the Appearance Commission and George Jackson and Donald Martin to the Midlands Workforce Development board.

Citizen’s Input II

Several people who live on Wages and Sara Matthews Roads, near Monticello Road, begged the county to pave their roads. Reverend Reginald Flynn had documents from 1976 where Strom had agreed to help get the road paved and the state had approved the request. That is an odd situation, since this is a county road. The council listened to the citizens and promised to look into the situation.

Four corrections officers from Glenn Detention Center risked quite a bit by speaking before council and asking for better working conditions and increased wages. The capacity of Glenn is a little over 800 beds. The current population is around 1200. The wages are so low, officers are leaving for other counties and replacements are hard to find. Most officers are working forced overtime to correct the imbalance. The officers invited the council members to come down and see first hand what conditions are like. I’m sure there will be several takers on that request.

Executive Session

The council retired into executive session and spent two full hours hiding from public view while they discussed a personnel matter specific to the Sheriff’s office, a personnel matter concerning staff employees, a Solid Waste Management plan presentation, the Recreation Commission lawsuit, or lack thereof, Historic Preservation houses, and the PHS contract.

When the council re–convened, Smith made a vague proposal to protect historic houses, Val Hutchinson proposed canceling the PHS contract with Glenn Detention Center, and Dickerson asked for the Recreation Bond issue to be tabled. All were passed.

Several motions were sent to committees; a resolution honoring Darci Strickland as Anchor of the Year, a jail oversight ordinance, a solid waste plan, information concerning a prescription discount card, and advisory committee for the Farmer’s Market, and resolutions honoring two retiring Central Midlands Board members. The meeting was finally adjourned after a sobering report on the overcrowding at the Glenn Detention Center. It seems the jail is, in fact overcrowded, and neither the director or the staff have any ideas to ease the situation.

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