City manager contract approved; Chapman announces plans

By Jana E. Pye, Editor,

At the close of the September meeting, the Darlington City Council members and Mayor Tony Watkins met in executive session with City Attorney Albert James, emerging to vote on the salary and two year contract request by current city manager Howard Garland.

Council approved the vote; the lone nay vote was from council member Gloria Hines. In a statement given to the News and Press, Hines shared her reason for the vote:

Wayne Chapman

Wayne Chapman

““The reason why I voted against it; council was given the contract at the last minute whereas the Mayor had time to read over in detail each section. Yes, some things were simple on the contract but to be fair, we should have had the contract for viewing 5 days ahead. Nothing of great importance should be rubber-stamped.”

The new contract will include an addendum that Garland will not leave the city employment during a critical period, such as a budget process.
The contract will be signed and in effect by the end of October.

In a surprise announcement, Wayne Chapman announced he will step down, leaving the council seat he has served for the past 12 years. He alluded to serving in public office, yet did not confirm his next public office goals.

Other items on the agenda included:

Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association (DDRA) Lisa Chalian-Rock:

Rock shared that the recent Race Week Kick Off Party by the DDRA on Friday, August 28 on Liberty Lane was a success.

The event raised $5000, which will fund the DDRA Improvement Incentive Program to provide grants for Darlington businesses to paint their buildings, install awnings, and freshen up their signage.

“This will be a 50/50 match reimbursement grant, up to $1,000 per business,” said Rock. “We are asking tonight if City Council will consider matching the funds we raised, $5,000, to double our impact with the grant program.”

Mayor Tony Watkins said that council will confer with city manager Howard Garland, to consider the request with the existing budget.

Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce: Jannie Lathan, Chair of Board of Directors introduced the newly hired Executive Director, Sabrina Derry, a Darlington native. [See story on page 1A] Derry shared with council that the chamber is rolling out a new invoice system in October, and is planning the Toast of Darlington for Thursday, November 5. The annual banquet will be held in February 2016. The chamber plans on hosting more Lunch and Learn and Business After Hours events for their members. “We want to welcome you,” said Mayor Watkins. “We consider the chamber one of our partners.”

Chalmers Street “Ditch” update: Howard Garland shared: “DHEC asked the city to do more camera testing and dye testing on the Chalmers and Short Coker Street, Andhow and Bonaparte Street which we have done. We have found no issues where we have any of our sewer, or having any sewer getting into that ditch on Chalmers and I think we are ready now to go to DHEC to begin their enforcement responsibilities as it relates to businesses inside the City of Darlington. They have us back and forth and right and left and we feel like our system’s not the best in the world, we did find some deficiencies, which we will address. We continue to take this very seriously.” Garland shared that the city does have a plan in place, which was addressed later in the evening.

Debbie Hardee: Dog owners removing waste: Hardee, a resident of Warley Street, shared photos with council members about the large “deposits” that are left on her front lawn on a regular basis. According to Hardee, she has actually seen dog owners with dogs on leash poop on her yard, and do not make an attempt to clean it up.
“It’s not safe,” said Hardee, who also brought council copies of literature extolling the environmental and health hazards that can occur from copious amounts of fecal matter, such as what she has been dealing with. “I cannot enjoy gardening or being outside at all anymore.”
Council decided to allow city manager Howard Garland to look into the feasibility of a City Ordinance, with possible fines for offending pet owners who do not clean up after their dogs.

New Business:

Streamlining Permit Process: Councilman Jimmy Cooper

Cooper addressed council and updated them on the committee formed to improve the process for new businesses attempting to open up shop in Darlington, praising the staff for their hard work on the project. The information will be available for potential businesses on the website, and a packet of information will be given to interested entrepreneurs including grant information sponsored by DDRA when they come to city offices to apply for a business license.

Second Reading of Ordinance 2015-13 “Comprehensive Plan Update”

Plan was approved with no discussion.

Board and Commission Appointments:

City Planner Lisa Rock shared with council three individuals that submitted applications to serve on the Historical Landmarks Commission, and council approved them: Adam Houle, Christian Barnes-Young, and DR. Keith Taylor. Two alternate seats still remain on that board.

Board of Zoning Appeals: one seat is available on this board, that meets annually and on an as-needed basis to work as an appeals process for citizens that disagree with the building or zoning officials’ decision or decision made by other boards and commissions under city’s prevue. A quorum of three members is required, so the board needs full capacity.

Planning Commission: Two seats are available for the commission, that m eets at 9 a.m. on the third Tuesday of the month.

Author: Duane Childers

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