Richland County Council dumps comprehensive plan again
Chair Paul Livingston, Vice Chair Damon Jeter, Joyce Dickerson, Val Hutchinson, Norman Jackson, Gwendolyn Kennedy, Bill Malinowski, Jim Manning, Greg Pearce, Kit Smith, and Kelvin Washington were present at the Richland County Council meeting May 19, 2009.
Bill Malinowski used the time allotted for approval of minutes to question the legality of allowing funds to be distributed with only one voting period. County Administrator Milton Pope reminded Malinowski the council had voted to do just that last year, approving upcoming Hospitality Tax funds in general and then allocating them as the need arises with a single vote.
Michael Lentz gave the council a progress report on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. $2.22 million is available for this program, which is designed to buy foreclosed and abandoned houses, repair them, and find families to occupy them to re- establish neighborhoods that are dying. Three organizations have been approved to oversee the process in different areas of Richland County. All the council needs to do is send a letter of support.
Mr. Pope recognized county flood coordinator Harry Reid for his many years of service to Richland County and announced his upcoming retirement after 33 years. Reid has been the county's certified flood plain manager since 1998.
Reid thanked the county and said working for Richland County had "been a privilege he enjoyed throughout his time, even when he had to make tough decisions." He also said he had made some people happy and a few sad. Regular agenda
An ordinance to adopt the 2009 Richland County Comprehensive Plan was once again deferred, this time until September. Several council members have a problem with the concept of "plan" and want to devise a document that covers every possible happenstance. This keeps the council from having to make tough decisions down the road.
Val Hutchinson said she felt any agreed upon plan would commit the county to the ideas suggested in the document. Hutchinson also said she was worried the council was rushing into something. The reason Richland County is adopting a new comprehensive plan is because the old one has expired after ten years.
Greg Pearce said he understood there were some issues with the overall plan, but it was only a guide for future decisions. Anything substantial would need to be approved individually. He felt the deferrals were unnecessary and asked those opposed to at least pass the overall plan so the county will be in compliance with the mandate.
Kit Smith said she hopes those who are against specific parts of the plan will at least offer alternate ideas. The most controversial parts of the plan, according to Smith, are tools for controlling development and sprawl. Without any rules the growth will be hard to control. In the end doing nothing once again proved to be the preferred way of dealing with a tough political decision.
An ordinance changing the county code concerning personnel decisions and bringing the council more in line with other municipal and county governments was finally passed.
An executive session revealed three different pending lawsuits involving Richland County.