Representatives of the newly formed organization, Laurens County Residents for Quality Rural Living, Inc., appeared at county council on Tuesday evening and continued to press for stronger protections against future densely populated developments in the area. from Fountain Inn-Gray Court.
Susan Stewart told council that a new housing development, Bridgeway, will disrupt a Native American burial mound and an abandoned cemetery on its site.
Nancy Garrison said another housing development on Abercrombie Road altered the flow of water in the surrounding area and dried up neighbours’ wells.
Laurens County is in the process of updating its Subdivision Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan (which by state law must be reviewed for updates every 5 years) in response to these concerns and others. The Board will take a first look at some of these revisions at a meeting called on August 18.
Stewart said she was unable to review plans for the Bridgeway Subdivision, which is now underway after a legal settlement between the county and the developer. She said she and Council Member Diane Anderson walked to the site of the Native American mound, adding that the abandoned cemetery atop the mound likely contains the human remains of early settlers, sharecroppers and slaves.
If these must be moved, she said, the work must be done under the strict direction of state law.
Stewart said there is evidence at the site suggesting the developer ordered ground-penetrating radar to survey the site.
“I hope burial sites will be included in the ordinances we are reviewing. Some of our developers may not be from South Carolina,” Stewart said. “I would also like us to work on public access to public information. It’s frustrating to come expecting access and you don’t. I hope we preserve and protect our history and save our farmland.
Garrison expressed concern that the county’s comprehensive plan is outdated and that the Laurens County Planning Commission has for some time not had the legal authority to deny requests for variances from promoters.
Council President Brown Patterson said that has now changed; and since the change, no subdivision waivers have been granted. Gaps would have been necessary to “pack” homes in a density not normally permitted by the subdivision ordinance – at least three subdivisions south of Fountain Inn currently under construction are “densely packed” of this type, and critics said that they are unsightly and detrimental to their neighbors in terms of water quality, road conditions, traffic volume, etc.
“During meetings of the Planning Commission, we heard that these developers followed all the ordinances; but what if they don’t follow the orders? Garrison said. “We want to make sure Laurens County is doing everything according to ordinances and state law. Otherwise, the damage will be irreparable and costly for our fellow citizens.
Council took no action related to the two presentations – other than to schedule the August 18 meeting to discuss changes to the subdivision ordinance. President Patterson has suggested these changes (Ordinance 926), which are being reviewed by the county administrator, attorney, and planner. Laurens County has put a moratorium on any housing development of more than 10 structures.
In other business, the board approved the second reading of an incentive for Project Wrench, a $16 million investment for a supplier to the automotive industry – the company’s name will be revealed at third reading, the August 23 – and gave the second of three readings to a $9 million borrowing order proposed by the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission, which maintains the current tax levy on LCWSC customers for debt repayment , and does not require new taxes.