County hears flooding and EMS grievances

Darlington County Council chair Bobby Hudson thanked retiring Darlington County Treasurer Belinda Copeland for her 43 years of service to the county. Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Darlington County Council’s July 10 regular meeting provided two citizens opportunities to voice concerns regarding flooding on private property and the operation of the county’s EMS department.

Citizen Everett Samuel lives in the Pecan Pointe Subdivision, and he told Council that severe flooding occurs on his property during heavy rains. Samuel said he hired a surveyor who found the source of the flooding to be poor drainage due to ditches that were not built to county code, and he asked for help getting the land developer – whom Samuel named as Tony Hall of Lexus Development – to address the flooding problem.

Everett Samuel asked Darlington County Council for help dealing with flooding on his property. Photos by Samantha Lyles

Samuel expressed frustration that the county is seemingly unable to force developers to comply with Darlington County building codes, and the onus for securing corrective action from engineers and developers falls to homeowners. Council member David Coker agreed.

“I’m like Mr. Samuel. I don’t understand why…we approve a plan and we don’t have any teeth to back it up,” said Coker.

County Attorney Jim Cox said the county’s ability to intervene is limited because the property in question is a private development, so the responsibility to build to code falls on the developer and engineer. Cox said that in cases where private developments are not maintained properly, a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) can sue the developer. Samuel said that there is currently no HOA for Pecan Pointe and Cox confirmed there is no record of a HOA for the subdivision.

Council member Bobby Kilgo suggested that if the developer did not build the ditches according to county codes, the County Attorney could bring an action against the developer to force compliance with those codes. Cox said that he “would love” for the county to direct him to file suit, but the county would have to pay for his legal fees resulting from such an action.

Paramedic Allen Tisdale aired grievances about the operation of Darlington County EMS.

“The neighborhood can bring a private action against the developers because the county has no control over that subdivision,” said Cox, adding that a letter has been drafted requesting that Hall and Lexus Development take action to address the Pecan Pointe flooding problems. County Administrator Charles Stewart said that if Council had no objection (they did not), he would sign the letter and have it sent to the developer.

Also during personal appearances, Allen Tisdale, a paramedic and owner of Medic of South Carolina ambulance service, voiced a number of concerns about Darlington County EMS. Tisdale alleged mismanagement by EMS director Michelle Moore, and suggested that numerous job openings – including 6 openings for full-time paramedics – are resulting in a lower standard of care and slower response times by EMS.

Council chair Bobby Hudson suggested that Tisdale take his allegations to the Darlington County Ambulance Commission’s next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. on July 27, and let them decide if any recommendations should be brought to County Council’s attention.

On the regular agenda, Council approved second reading of Ordinance 17-07, authorizing a Special Source Revenue Credit agreement for Project Phoenix, the still unnamed industrial development project which Darlington County Economic Development is pursuing for location in the county.

According to the ordinance, Project Phoenix could yield over $30 million in new investment, and this 20 year, 45-percent SSRC agreement could prove “essential to having the Project locate in the County.”

An SSRC incentive works as a reimbursement mechanism by reducing property taxes and allowing businesses use those tax savings to reimburse project costs such as expanding infrastructure or improving real estate used a manufacturing or industrial enterprise.

Darlington County Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for August 7 at 6 p.m in the Courthouse Annex located at 1625 Harry Byrd Hwy in Darlington. This meeting will be open to the public.

Darlington County Council chair Bobby Hudson thanked retiree Robin Slater Edwards for her years of service with the Darlington County Treasurer’s Office. Photos by Samantha Lyles

Author: Duane Childers

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