Commissioner’s Meeting Honors Students and Discusses Blight Ordinance

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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The Sumter County Board of Commissioners discussed several other issues in addition to The Board of Tax Assessors during their April 16 th meeting.

The following student leaders were recognized by the Sumter County Board of Commissioners for organizing the Youth Violence Summit: Bryson Phelps, Penelope Utzcategui, Caden Cason, Ty Brown, and Julia Walker from Furlow Charter School. Faith Garry, Aydin Beamon, Nakyra Merritt, Alasia Colwell, Catelyn Mathis, and Jayla Hawkins from Sumter County High School. Rushali Patel, Krish Patel, Bennett Minor, Lee Graff, and Mary Katherine Saratsiotis from Southland Academy.

Captain Anthony Smith, who works in Care and Treatment, was also recognized for his 15 years of service as an employee of the County.

Stephen Woodson with Life Transformation Ministries presented a request to the Board to use the Armory. “We’ve been having a summer camp for about 20 plus years that we have been serving the citizens and families of Sumter County, our youth. Life Transformation Ministries is a program that serves our youth from ages 7 to 15, where we have certified teachers during the summer, a seven-week program, that is run by educators and also retired educators. We have a curriculum that is called R.E.A.C.H., raising expectation and changing habits.”

The Board then discussed the zoning changes to comply with State law. County attorney Hayden Hooks addressed the board, mentioning one change that dealt with mobile homes. “If you want to add a mobile home in R1L, it’s currently done through the variance process and goes before the Board of Zoning and Appeals.” She mentioned an observation by the zoning attorney. “It’s not just a variance from the enforcement of the ordinance, it is a change of the zoning. So those mobile homes have now become a conditional use permit. And that will now be heard by the planning commission per 5.07.”

Baldwin asked for clarification on mobile home use in R1L. Hayden responded: “For replacement.”

She also addressed RV Parks. “Section 10.01-10.04 are some changes because there are currently much stricter requirements on mobile home parks than there are RV parks and so this is just making sure that both of those similar types of neighborhoods are regulated the same.” Hooks also mentioned non-conforming uses. “19.01 is some clarifications for non-conforming uses to clarify that the non-conforming uses may be continued but they cannot be expanded or sold to a new owner, they can only be repaired in the event of a disaster.”

Commissioner Mark Waddell made a motion to accept the changes, seconded by Commissioner Jessie Smith, passing unanimously.

In the prior meeting, the Board of Commissioners had discussed passing a blight ordinance, which would raise taxes on unsafe, unoccupied properties that met certain criteria. Interim County Administrator Doug Eaves updated the Board. “Going back and doing some historical research, the Board of Commissioners in Sept. of 09, as part of our environmental code under nuisances, adopted a blight ordinance that complies with the State law at the time, and with very few, I’d say minor mods, complies with the State law that’s currently in existence.” Eaves mentioned that the only difference was that taxes were multiplied by a factor of three instead of seven. He did mention one issue. “We cannot identify a resolution that was passed concurrently with this stating that there was in existence a blight condition.” Eaves explained the need for a resolution. “It is required now.”

Chairman David Baldwin addressed the Board. “Is there any interest in changing the three to seven?”

Commissioner Clay Jones responded. “You got to make it hurt.”

Baldwin responded. “I don’t disagree with you.”

Baldwin directed Eaves to prepare changes.