Lamar contracts for building inspections, readies local Neighborhood Watch
By Samantha Lyles
The Town Council of Lamar maintained social distancing and wore protective masks during their April 13 monthly meeting, which was available to the public through a Zoom teleconference.
The regular agenda included a measure to outsource building permits and codes enforcement services to Safebuilt, a commercial business specializing in such matters. Council agreed to use Safebuilt for these services on an as-needed basis.
“They have a full menu of services and we can pick and choose what we need, so we can start out with inspections … and then they can help us revise our (building codes) ordinances because those need to be brought up to date,” said Mayor Darnell Byrd McPherson.
At council’s March 9 meeting, Scott McDaniel of Safebuilt explained that if Lamar should contract their services, the company would conduct any necessary inspections and ensure that projects meet current state and federal building codes. Safebuilt offers varying payment options; if Lamar should contract with them, the town could pay for services by the hour, or let the company collect fees from applicants and share those revenues with the Town of Lamar.
McPherson noted that some neighboring communities, including the City of Hartsville, use private vendors such as Safebuilt for these services rather than maintaining a municipal building and codes department.
For the past few years, Lamar has relied on the City of Darlington to lend out their building and codes official to conduct needed inspections. Departmental reorganization in Darlington removed that option, and Lamar currently has no building and codes department to handle permit requests.
Council member Angele White Bradley voted to approve the Safebuilt contract and received a second from Mayor Pro Tem Lang Howell. The measure passed without objection.
Also on the agenda was an ordinance calling for Lamar to alter the way it collects franchise fees from vendors, including Spectrum and Duke Energy. Previously, the town collected any owed franchise fees on an annual basis; this amendment changes the collection schedule so the town will receive payments each quarter, providing more regular cashflow. The measure passed without objection.
Regarding the town’s ongoing efforts to repair and reinstate its municipal water and sewer system, consultant Jannie Lathan said that new aerators have been installed at Lamar’s water treatment pond. All that remains on that project is an inspection and approval of work done by contractor Evans Paving. Lathan said the town’s water and sewer operator of record, Davis and Brown, must sign off on the project before that DHEC-funded grant project can be closed out.
The SC RIA grant funded project to rehab Lamar’s two water towers was completed and closed out on March 26, but other projects (rehabbing the treatment plant building, installing new effluent pumps, and renewing filter beds) are still incomplete. Lathan said she is following up on these projects and asking for information from Davis and Brown to get a clear picture of where the system overhaul currently stands.
Lamar Police Chief Carl Scott announced plans to organize a town-wide Neighborhood Watch. The first step, he said, is to map out zones that can be patrolled and observed by vigilant residents. Scott asked that anyone interested in participating or becoming a Neighborhood Watch captain should contact Chief Scott at 843-639-3900.
Scott also advised people to make sure their car doors and homes are locked up tight, as some residents have reported hearing trespassers jiggling handles in search of easy robbery targets.
Regarding the Town Council seat vacated by Tamron McManus, Mayor McPherson said that two people – Buzz Segars and Tyler Cook – have filed as candidates, but the election proceedings are up in the air due to COVID-19 restrictions. Anyone with questions about filing for this seat or election schedules should contact Darlington County Elections and Registrations at 843-398-4900.
Town Council’s next meeting is May 11. If Town Hall is still closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, you can visit the town’s website at www.lamarsc.org for information regarding public broadcast of these proceedings.