Sumter County Council Dec. 12 meeting

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Sumter County Council took action on several items Tuesday evening during its last regular meeting of the year.

City-County Planning Director George McGregor spoke to council members about a request to rezone about 5.8 acres of land located at 2020 Loring Mill Road from Residential-15 to Agricultural Conservation. The applicant wishes to put a personal storage structure on the property, he said, noting that use is supported by zoning ordinances. The Planning Commission and staff recommended approval, he said. County Council Chairman James T. McCain Jr. asked about what use the applicant might have in mind for the structure and McGregor said likely for recreational equipment and not commercial uses.

Louis Watkins spoke against the request. James Goodson said he wanted to simply build a barn-type garage to store recreational equipment. Councilman Eugene Baten asked if there was other opposition and Councilman Charles T. Edens said the property was in his district and he’d heard of none. Council approved second reading.

County Attorney Johnathan Bryan spoke briefly about a resolution in support of the issuance by the South Carolina Job-Economic Development Authority of its hospital revenue bonds in relation to the debt of Palmetto Health Tuomey, Palmetto Health and Greenville Hospital Systems. No one spoke during a public hearing and Council approved the resolution.

Bryan also spoke about an ordinance to approve a utility easement needed by Duke Energy Progress along the right-of-way of a new intersection of North Lafayette Drive and North Main Street as the new ‘Lafayette Diamond’ takes shape. Third reading was approved.

McCain said a Fiscal, Tax and Property Committee meeting was held prior to the meeting and information from several hospital officials was given about the JEDA bonds but no action was taken during the meeting.

As council members gave reports on their activities, Edens noted that he, McCain and Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon recently attended a meeting in Charleston hosted by the S.C. Association of Counties’ Legislative Policy meeting regarding a preview of the upcoming session for the state Legislature. Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney reported on a Town Hall she hosted last week at Eastern Community Center, which was well attended despite some inclement weather. The panelists included Dalton Tresvant, the Midlands Area Director for U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of the 6th District, Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis, Sandra Riley and Alan Kuzusko from the S.C. Department of Transportation, Sumter County Public Works Director Eddie Newman, Sen. Thomas McElveen of District 35, Sumter County Engineer Mike Weatherly, Selena Ruth Smith of the Sumter Fire Department and Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments Director Christopher McKinney. Councilman Baten was also present, she noted, as he represents the bordering District 7.

Updates were given on the roads and water systems, McKinney introduced himself and explained his organization’s mission, and Sheriff Dennis addressed public safety issues, among other topics.

“It was a very productive meeting,” McGhaney said.

McCain noted he had the pleasure of bringing greetings to a recent graduation ceremony for the Strengthening Families program, which started in Lee County in 1999 and is now available in Sumter County. It’s a 14-week program designed to forge stronger family bonds, he said, also noting that Third Circuit Solicitor Ernest “Chip” Finney III was the keynote speaker at the graduation.

McGhaney also thanked McCain for bringing a resolution to honor the life and impact of the late S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ernest Finney Jr., a legal giant and “an icon in this community.”

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