Nov. 09--Orangeburg County Council has denied a rezoning request for Highway 33, citing neighbors' complaints.
Councilman Willie B. Owens, who represents the area, said "Twice, my constituents have turned this down.
"I am with my constituents. We do not want a Dollar General located there."
Council voted unanimously Monday to deny Greg Googer's rezoning request.
Googer wanted to build a new Dollar General store near the intersection of Highway 33 and Old Cameron Road, where the old gas station used to be. The land is zoned Residential General.
Neighbors claimed that Googer had not even met with them to see if they would agree to the store, but Googer said he arranged a community meeting with them.
"Unfortunately during that meeting I was interrupted so many times, I didn't even get through my presentation," he said.
Property owner Daisy Orr said her mother purchased the property around 30 years ago but no one expressed any interest over the years until Googer. She and her sisters have been paying taxes on the property.
"Nothing has been on that property but the trees and whatever it is now. No residential, no store, no nothing," Orr said. "There are several homes in that area, but no one has ever shown an interest in that until this gentleman came."
Councilman Harry Wimberly asked what the biggest opposition to the rezoning seemed to be.
"They just don't want it period," Googer said. "They don't want any development along 33, which I'm concerned for Orangeburg under those statements because that's a main corridor for you."
He noted the county's comprehensive plan designates Highway 33 as a growth corridor with the possibility of it being entirely commercialized.
Owens said, "It's not along 33. They welcome your development farther up on 33."
Owens said even if the store was built, residents have said they'll boycott the business.
Owens made the motion to deny a related resolution and ordinance.
In other business:
--Concerned citizen Robert Decelles spoke during the public comments section of the meeting, saying the county has a problem with EMS services.
He said four or five medic crews work double shifts. The outcome is overworked employees and long response times that can be up to and over an hour.
Decelles claimed that Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young's grandmother had to wait more than an hour for service.
Young said, "To the men and women who work in this county as first responders, I cannot sit here and let him say that it took them an hour to get to my grandmother."
"They gave her the best care she could have her last days in life," he continued. "She passed away at the hospital after months of fighting through. They did not take an hour to get to my grandmother."
Wimberly said, "This council realizes that we do have an EMS situation in this county that needs to be addressed."
"This council sits up here and we took more heat over imposing a business license to raise money to fix EMS than any council in the state of South Carolina took," he added. "If there had been money in this county, we'd have fixed it, but we had to find a way to fix it."
--Council gave first reading by title only to an ordinance authorizing a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement with a company operating anonymously as Project Huntley. The ordinance also places the project in a multi-county industrial park.
The business is a solar farm that will be constructed on approximately 550 acres.
Project Huntley promises a minimum investment of $150 million in machinery and equipment.
County Attorney Jerrod Anderson said there are no new jobs promised but there will be long-term employment related to the ongoing operation of the facility.
--Council passed first reading by title only of an ordinance authorizing tax agreements for a company operating anonymously as Project MB.
The company promises a minimum investment of $10 million, with $250,000 in buildings and $9.7 million in machinery and equipment.
Anderson said it comes with the promise of 100 new jobs. He said 50 jobs have been created since Jan. 1 of this year.
The location is already included in the multi-county industrial park.
--Council passed first reading of an ordinance authorizing an agreement to buy and sell real estate between the county and Mark Linder.
"After doing a study throughout the county, we have looked at certain situations in the county where we had a company come in and analyze a lot of the facilities," Young said. "This was one of the facilities we felt like could be refurbished or sold."
The contract price is $55,000. The property would be used by Linder as a storage warehouse for his construction company.
--Council passed two ordinances in first reading authorizing an infrastructure credit agreement between the county and F I of Santee, LLC and placing the project in the multi-county industrial park.
The company promises an investment of $5 million and 15 new jobs in the town of Santee.
--Council passed second reading of an ordinance rezoning property on North Road from Forest and Agriculture to Commercial General.
Two nearby churches, Orangeburg Baptist Tabernacle and Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, have opposed the rezoning, stating they do not want a business near the church disturbing their normal proceedings. Also, if the property is rezoned to Commercial General, any business could potentially locate there.
--Council passed a resolution to restate the authorization for an installment purchase plan for certain capital projects in the county, including the new detention center.
Young said the resolution is for the sole purpose of supporting the issuance of tax incentives. He said it was passed last year but needs to be renewed to move forward.
--Council passed second reading of an ordinance rezoning property at 782 Lake Edisto Road from Residential General to Forest and Agriculture for a dog grooming business.
--Council approved a request for an exemption from the procurement code for Edisto River Debris Removal Phase I.
County Attorney D'Anne Haydel said they will go with the second-lowest bidder for the contract.
Young said the original company did not meet the delivery or start time and another storm impacted the river even more.
--Council approved the low bid of $442,807 from Skip Welch Construction for the rebuilding and relocation of the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Department storage and K-9 facility.
--Council read a resolution honoring Bishop Paul J. Jenkins.
--Council went into closed, executive session to discuss economic development updates for projects operating anonymously under the names Project Huntly, Project Recycle, Project Arrow, Project MB and Project 01.
Contact the writer: [email protected] or 803-533-5516.
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