Darlington City Council approves digital sign ordinance

By Melissa Rollins, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

During their meeting April 3, Darlington City Council gave final approval to the city’s digital sign ordinance 2018-01. A brief public hearing was held regarding the ordinance but no one from the community signed up to speak.

Councilman John Milling asked that city staff look at what might be needed to ensure that all current digital signs would come under the new ordinance.

“Sometimes when ordinances have been done, the ordinance is set and you then you have certain signs that are in non-compliance,” Milling said. “(We need to look at) whether these non-compliant signs will have to be brought into compliance within five years or some sort of timeframe so that everything is coordinated rather than just have some people having to comply with the sign ordinance and others being grandfathered in forever and not having to make any compliance.”

City attorney Kevin Etheridge said that he and Lisa Rock, the city planner, had already been in discussions regarding that issue.

Under the new ordinance, businesses interested in using a digital sign must follow rules regarding the size and placement as well as the brightness of the sign during non-business hours.

Second reading and final approval was also given to the annexation of property on North Main Street beside the now closed Darlington Amusement Company.

City Council also gave first reading to Ordinance 2018-07. This ordinance would give a General Commercial zoning designation to that property on North Main Street, which will hold a new Dollar General, according to city manager Howard Garland.

Another piece of property that was on the agenda relating to zoning was 700 Orange Street. Ordinance 2018-08 changed the zoning on 700 Orange Street from General Residential District to Basic Industrial District.
Garland explained the necessity of the zoning change.

“Those of you who are long-time residents of Darlington know the history of this former cotton mill site, which was closed by Millican and Associates in 1956 because that group voted to go union,” Garland said. “Pyramid Electric came in in 1959 and opened a TV plant there. In the 60’s and 70’s Nytronics was the name of that company. They polluted the ground and they polluted it terribly. Nytronics went bankrupt but there is a company in India called Vishay International, which owns the environmental liability from the Nytronics Company. Since 2005, they’ve been working with South Carolina DHEC to clean up the property.”

Garland said that in 2008, a four-story building was torn down and that in the last several years work has been done to clean the land.

“In the last seven or eight years, they actually brought in a machine to wash the soil on site, some places up to six feet deep because BCBs are all over that eleven acre site,” Garland said. “They did some additional soil testing and they are still worried that it is contaminated. So we met with them in late January, the mayor and I, Ms. Reed and some of the lawyers for Vishay. They are going to put thirty above-ground wells on the site and three that will be underground to clean the area additionally. The reason they need to do that it because one day we want to use the site for something.”

Garland said that DHEC has restrictions on what can be put on the site but that the city hopes to one day make it a useful piece of property again.

“DHEC is demanding that it never be used for anything residential,” Garland said. “It still can be used for business purposes down the line but for the next five to seven years there is going to be a fence around that area right at the end of Orange Street and there are going to be thirty pumps pumping; they are going to be checking the site to see that its clean. One day, hopefully, with a rail and a creek there we can put something there that will bring jobs to Darlington in the future. For right now, it is still being cleaned up.”

Author: Duane Childers

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