Letters to the Editor – May 4, 2016

Resident questions enforcement of city ordinance codes

I recently read in the March issue of VIP Magazine a quote from Mayor Hines wherein, about the city, she said “I would encourage citizens to keep their yards clean. Each entrance should be breath-taking and easy on the eyes. It should be so attractive that it would bring people from other cities to see our Pearl. It’s time for Darlington to shine again”.

I took umbrage at this statement, mainly because when you drive around the city entrances, the yards you pass by aren’t even remotely close to being the problem. I drove around the city and noted that the majority of people DID in fact keep their yards tidy. However, several business buildings were quite the opposite. I took many photographs, and together with a packet of photographs another resident had taken over 6 months ago, compiled a report of sorts including ordinance codes the city has on its website.

I concluded that not only had the city failed us as residents in citing these business for violating MANY of the ordinances, but also that not one person in the city offices seemed to care about this. The very fact that Henry Chapman, the Codes Enforcement Officer had ignored frequent reports of violations was a red flag.
I brought this matter to the Council at their April meeting and questioned WHY this was happening. One business has been violating every single ordinance for years yet nothing has been done to correct this. When asked why he hadn’t cited the latter business, Mr. Chapman stated “I was told to wait until after the election.” I’d be interested in hearing who told him that! If his answer doesn’t infuriate residents then I would question whether they are happy to have just anyone breaking the law. How is it fair to other area business that keep their lots clean and tidy and who actually care about the presentation of their company to have to be located next to a building that is almost derelict, dangerous and visually abhorrent?

My reason for writing this letter isn’t to complain further (though I will be following up with Council at their next meeting), it is to simply say that the people who have complained about me, the people who dislike my ‘meddling’ as they call it, and my ‘harassment of good business folk’ aren’t helping themselves or the city. I understand the Mayor doesn’t want to fine everyone because we ‘would be riding good business folk out of the city’ but the codes are there for a reason. For the safety of the business, the safety of residents, and for the overall look of the city. As I mentioned at the meeting, as of now this ‘Pearl’ the Mayor wants to shine? It needs a LOT of polishing and if I can help get it shining then I will do my best. If that means highlighting the failure of the city managers then so be it. They get paid to do a job and they should do it regardless of whether someone gets upset. Rules are rules.

Andrea Knapp
Darlington, S.C

Author: Duane Childers

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