Lamar business expansion hits building approval snag
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
A delay in the planned expansion of Carolina Table Co., a furniture manufacturing concern located in downtown Lamar, provided a main topic of discussion at the May 11 regular meeting of Lamar Town Council.
In March, council heard from Carolina Table president Mike Epps who sought a construction variance for a new metal building he planned to erect adjacent to his current Main Street facility. Epps asked council to except the requirement for him to build in a firewall to protect both his new building and a neighboring business, The Pit Stop short order grill.
Council conditionally granted the exception pending approval from the building inspector and fire marshal. At the May 11 meeting, Darlington County Fire District assistant chief and fire marshal Ricky Flowers confirmed for council that the foundation footing dug for the Carolina Table expansion would apparently put the facility inside the 20-foot safe distance required for the firewall exemption, so his office had to rescind approval for the building plans.
“The problem is how close in proximity they’re building to the Pit Stop,” said Flowers, noting that he had reached out to the building’s architect to discuss the divergence between submitted plans and actual construction.
“Until we can match those plans to the work that’s being done, we can’t consent to anything like that,” said Flowers.
Council member Mike Lloyd observed that the current distance between the Pit Stop and the Carolina Table foundation footing is a little too close for comfort without a firewall.
“You could probably pull a car between the two buildings, but I doubt you could open the doors,” said Lloyd.
Mayor Randy Reynolds encouraged Flowers to work with building inspector Henry Chapman to monitor the issue and seek a resolution that would protect both Carolina Table and the Pit Stop in the event of a fire.
“We’ve got to work with them. We can’t incur that kind of liability,” said Reynolds.
Lloyd reported that a recent water system inspection by DHEC revealed no issues, except the longstanding need to repaint the town’s water holding tanks.
Council member Jackie Thomas reported no problems with the Lamar Police Department, though Lloyd queried him about the possibility of the LPD utilizing current grant opportunities for free body cameras. Thomas said that at least one Lamar officer already patrols with such a device, but he and Chief Charles Woodle would look into getting more cameras for the department.