Sumter County Council July 24 meeting

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Sumter County Council Tuesday evening denied a request to rezone a tract of land for a cemetery, passed second reading for a request to amend an ordinance related to a salvage yard and passed third and final reading to allow feather flags with specific guidelines.

Council members also passed first reading of an ordinance to approve an intergovernmental loan with the S.C. Public Service Authority to construct a new economic development building and adjoining building pad.

City-County Planning Director George McGregor spoke to members of council about a request to rezone 1.9 acres of a 4.85 acre tract at 3425 Thomas Sumter Highway from general commercial (GC) to residential-9 (R-9). Initially, the applicant sought to have a church constructed on the property but later bought a facility and sought to put a cemetery on the property.

Pastor Marie Sanders spoke in favor of the request during the public hearing, and said there are few places in the county for burial as she promised to maintain the property and keep it from falling into disrepair.

Five residents of the Kel-Sam Farms subdivision spoke against allowing the cemetery, concerned that it would fall into disrepair, that another flood might dislodge and unearth caskets and that the cemetery would lower their property values. They also expressed dismay at possibly seeing a cemetery across from their neighborhood’s entrance.

Vice Chairman Jimmy Byrd asked McGregor what types of uses could be permitted on the property. A wide variety of commercial uses such as gas station, food store, retail outlets, office spaces and other uses would be allowed, McGregor said, such as what are seen on the Broad Street corridor.

Councilman Artie Baker said he used to live in Kel-Sam and thinks the location is the wrong place for a cemetery. Flooding is an issue, he said, and he’s seen several cemeteries on rural property that are abandoned. Councilman Chris Sumpter commended Pastor Sanders for taking a stand for indigent county residents and said he looked forward to working with her if the property is rezoned for another use.

Councilman Eugene Baten said he was impressed that members of the neighborhood showed up to voice their concerns as their home is the biggest investment they’ll make.

Councilwoman Vivian Fleming McGhaney said she was impressed how both sides handled themselves during the process in showing respect for each other’s views.

Second reading was denied; Sumpter voted in favor of it.


McGregor next spoke to council members about a request to amend a planned development ordinance for the addition of used motor vehicle parts as a permitted use on a 9.5 acre portion of property at 350 Myrtle Beach Highway.

Councilman Baker asked about the zoning distinctions between heavy industrial and light industrial and said he’s unable to see a difference. Councilman Sumpter asked about wetlands in close proximity to the property and McGregor said south of the property the ground is wet, but perhaps not specifically classified as wetlands as defined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Councilman Baten raised several questions about the property owners expanding the scope of use without permission, whether there’s wetlands nearby and whether an adjacent home would be affected without a buffer in place. He recused himself as he owns nearby property.

Kathy Cole spoke in favor of the request during the public hearing and explained that she’s the office manager of the truck and trailer part business and lives beside it. They use A & P Recycling, she said, and parts are sold throughout the southeast. The business was purchased from David Merchant, she said, and outgrew its former location. She maintained the business has good relations with neighboring locations and said they strive to keep it that way.

Two neighbors spoke against the request. Eubie Dicks, who lives behind the property, said there’s a good bit of noise during the day and if the business expands, it will only get worse. He also worried about his property value and said the business will become an eyesore.

Richard Mitchum said his property backs up to 350 Myrtle Beach Highway and he has a stocked pond, which was excavated in 1993. He said he’s concerned about various chemicals seeping into the soil from the dismantled trucks.

Councilman Charles Edens mentioned Baker’s comment about the property being zoned as heavy industrial and wondered if the property could remain light industrial and get grandfathered in for the rest of the proposed expansion.

Chairman Jim McCain said he likes to personally view a property in question and asked questions about buffers and McGregor said he would look at the site plan. Edens said most of the area looks wooded.

Baker asked about where the work was done and the parts are held. Cole said no buildings would be constructed and the property in question would be used as a holding area for parts.

Second reading passed and Baten recused himself from the vote.


McGregor next addressed a request to amend portions of the county’s development standards ordinance to allow certain fluttering devices, including feathered flags.

At council’s direction, permission was added for model homes in developing subdivisions, he said, with the stipulation that feather flags cannot exceed 12 feet in height and three feet in width. Properties can have two feather flags per parcel with up to 50 feet in linear frontage on the street, he said, with three feather flags allowed on properties with 50 to 100 linear feet. Properties over 100 linear feet are allowed a maximum of four, he said.

McCain asked about enforcement of the flags and who would determine if the flags are in bad shape. McGregor said it would be the Zoning Administrator, or himself, or staff of the Planning Department would make that determination. McCain also asked about setbacks and McGregor said the recommendation is that they follow zoning district requirements. It’s five feet for almost all districts, he said, except in industrial, which is 10 feet.

Edens said the feather flags would not be allowed in the right-of-way, and McGregor said no signs are permitted as such and Edens asked that they be enforced.

“Enforcement is always a challenge when it comes to signs,” McGregor said.

McCain said his preference was to defer it but the climate wasn’t right at the time.

Third reading passed; McCain and Baten voted against it.


County Attorney Johnathan Bryan spoke to council about first reading of an intergovernmental loan agreement with the S.C. Public Service Authority to be secured by a mortgage for a 20 acre property that would see the construction of a new economic development building and adjoining building pad to attract a manufacturer.

It’s an agreement with Santee-Cooper that’s interest free the first three years, he said. First reading passed.

McCain spoke about the Fiscal, Tax, and Property Committee meeting prior to council’s regular meeting. A financial snapshot was provided, he said.

“We are in excellent shape,” he said, with about $3.895 million that will be added to the fund balance at the end of the year.

A motion and a second to spend $25,500 of the infrastructure fund to repair some CSX railroad track in an industrial park also came out of the meeting as well, he said.



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