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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

County commissioners voted down one rezoning request, while another required a tiebreaking vote from the mayor to pass during Monday night’s meeting.

A proposed rezone of property along Highway 25 at Hickory Ridge Lane from residential to commercial failed on first reading by a 14-5 vote. The property had been identified as a potential site for a Hartsville hotel.

Chairman Jerry Ford recused himself from the vote as he is the owner of said property.

Homeowners in the Hickory Ridge subdivision spoke against the rezone, citing the potential effect on home values and the safety of the neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

“We were led to believe when we bought the house that it would be a residential neighborhood,” said Susie Peace. “This would bring great harm to our financial future.”

“That hotel, if it does come, would be 60 yards from my front porch,” added Eric Langford. “A hotel coming in will bring a lot of people visiting their loved ones in prison… I don’t want that in my neighborhood.”

Another rezoning request, for 29 acres on Skillet Creek Road from agricultural to residential, raised controversy Monday evening.

Stephanie Urick, who lives in the area, presented commissioners with a petition from 70 residents opposing the proposed zoning change.

“One of the main concerns we have is, we have several farmers with livestock on both sides of the road. Bringing this neighborhood to our road can cause impact on those farmers. I have not spoken to a single resident that is in favor of it,” Urick said.

Some commissioners asked if it were possible to rezone part of the property instead of the entire tract, but Dwight Jewell, who serves on the Planning Commission, said he knew of no way to rezone part of a tract of land.

Commissioners voted 10-9, with one abstention, to pass the rezone on first reading. Yes votes were cast by Ken Buckmaster, Shane Burton, Gary Claridy, Coy Dickey, Bill Fergusson, Ford, Richard Harsh, Jewell, Linda Sue Johnson and David Nollner. No votes came from Beverly Atwood, Mary Ann Baker, Bubba Gregory, Richard Johnson, Rachel Jones, Amber Russell, Grace Thomas, Gary Walsh and Steve Whittaker. Landon Gulley abstained from the vote, saying he knew abstaining would count as a no vote.

After a brief recess to allow the county attorney to consult Roberts’ Rules of Order, it was determined that Gulley’s abstention counted as a no vote, leaving a 10-10 tie and requiring a tiebreaking vote from County Mayor Stephen Chambers, as provided by the charter. Chambers voted yes.

The Skillet Creek matter will come up for a second reading and a public hearing at the Commission’s next meeting on Feb. 25.

Also passed on first reading was a rezone request from R-1 to R-3 for a piece of property on Hayes Street, and on second reading a rezone of property at the intersection of River Valley Road and Cemetery Lane from R-1 to R-3. Neither request drew any opposition.

Commissioners also passed eight budget amendments, six of which were draws on the county’s fund balance:

$3,436 for a plat cabinet for the Register of Deeds office;

$300 to upgrade the judicial commissioner’s phone to a smartphone;

$1,248 for fixed asset software for the mayor’s office;

$15,000 in increased funding for the county coroner’s office;

$5,289 to allow Clerk & Master Shelly Jones to hire a full-time assistant; and

$51,053.38 in reimbursement to the school system for expenses related to adding school resource officers at all three schools.

The schools and county previously agreed to split the costs of SROs 50/50, with the school board initially contributing $100,000 to the effort.

Also passed were internal transfers of $5,216.63 in insurance recovery by the Sheriff’s Department and $3,861 for building improvements at the animal shelter.

Commissioners also passed resolutions allowing for the sale of surplus equipment by the sheriff and EMS, a grant application by the Water Department, the 2019 county Road List and amending the county’s capital asset threshold.

Several nominations also received approval:

Tawana Flatt for a 2-year term on the Local Emergency Planning Committee;

Gulley, Freida Cornwell, Ford and William Beasley to 2-year terms on the Agriculture Committee;

Katie Mae Harper to a 5-year term on the Housing Authority;

Heather Bay and Brian King to 4-year terms on the Industrial Development Board;

Linda Sue Johnson and Kelly Anderson to 2-year terms on the Animal Control Board;

Bobby Joe Lewis to a 2-year term on the Highway Commission; and

Sam Edwards as the county’s new Building and Codes Inspector. Jewell is retiring from that office effective Feb. 13, he told commissioners Monday.

Two notaries were approved: Deanna Demars-Cox and Chrystal Johnson.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]