Barnwell County Council approves zoning ordinance updates, sale of timber
The sale of timber in the Blackville Industrial Park and second reading on an updated county zoning ordinance were among the actions approved by the Barnwell County Council.
The council took the votes on Tuesday, Jan. 9 during their regular monthly meeting.
Council chairman Lowell Jowers said there were around eight changes to the zoning ordinance, “mostly correcting typos and wording – nothing of significance.”
Examples of the wording included changing “building official” to “County Building Inspector”. It also added “solar projects or farms of more than one megawatt (AC)” under land uses. Another change impacted the number of signs on property for non-residential uses adding the word “undeveloped” to the description. Additionally, the location of appeal meetings was updated from “County Courthouse Annex Building” to “Council Chambers”.
The vote to approve second reading was unanimous. A third reading is required for final approval of the ordinance changes.
The council also voted unanimously to approve the sale of timber located at the Blackville Industrial Park for $93,000.
Councilman Jerry Creech moved to approve the timber sale and that the money be “set aside” for improvements to the N.K. Newlook building. Councilman Freddie Houston said the money isn’t the council’s to decide that – it belongs in the Economic Development Corporation’s funds.
When asked to speak on the matter, EDC Executive Director Tommy Boyleston noted the N.K. NewLook building in Blackville “doesn’t belong to us” and is currently tied up in IRS litigation.
After some discussion, Creech withdrew his initial motion and then moved just for the sale of the timber. His motion was seconded by Councilman David Kenner. In a roll-call vote, the council unanimously approved the sale.
Financials and Administrator Update
Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. reported the county’s finances as of Oct. 31 as “absolutely normal” for that time of year.
He said revenues are at 15 percent of the fiscal year which runs from July 1 to June 30 and expenses are at 34 percent. He said he expects revenues in November and December to “pick up pretty strong”. While expenses seem to appear high, the spike is caused by lump sum payments for workman’s compensation. “It’s not really out of whack,” said Williams. “It’ll even back up. Everything looks good.”
Councilman Houston noted, “This is the third year we haven’t had to use a ‘cushion’ to get through the summer months.”
Williams also said, “The preliminary numbers for the audit look pretty good. That will be on the February agenda.”
In his update to council Williams said construction at the jail is “virtually complete” and employees are repairing some gas lines that had been cut during the construction process.
He also reported that several surplus vehicles had been sold by the sheriff’s office. “We got good bids,” he said.
In other business the council:
• Held an executive session to discuss Project Horse and discuss an amended Fee In Lieu of Taxes (FILOT) agreement with Orchids. Upon returning to open session the council unanimously voted to approve “clarifying terms” in the Orchids FILOT.
• Chairman Lowell Jowers nominated James Weeks to the Museum Board to represent District 7.
• Agreed to add the Recreation Committee back to county council.
• Held first reading on an ordinance to lease space at the Barnwell County Health Department building.
• Unanimously approved temporarily removing a hiring freeze at the Williston Magistrate’s Office. They also discussed placing a resolution on the February agenda to permanently lift that hiring freeze which was instituted in 2010 “but is not needed now,” according to Councilman Houston.
• Learned of a special public hearing by the S.C. Department of Transportation regarding Highways 300 and 278. The meeting will be held on Feb. 8 at First Baptist Church in Barnwell from 5 to 7 p.m. Councilman Houston encouraged the public to attend.