Rock Hill has backed off its threat to shut off water service to a group of homeowners who refuse to be annexed into the city.
After receiving a proposal from the Miller Pond neighborhood homeowners association, city officials postponed the termination, said Rock Hill spokeswoman Lyn Garris, who declined to specify what the proposal said.
The city's attorney is reviewing the proposal before the mayor and city council see it in a closed-door meeting Monday, Garris said.
For now, Miller Pond residents will continue to receive water.
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"That's a good sign," said David Grigg, president of the Miller Pond homeowners association. "If they shut people's water off, there are no winners.
"That's what should've happened all along."
Earlier, city officials ignored the residents' request to delay the shut-off so their attorney could investigate.
It's not clear how long water will run through Miller Pond.
"No further action will be taken at this point, pending the outcome of discussion between the attorneys," Garris said. "If they can't come to an agreement, I don't know what the outcome would be."
Garris wouldn't say whether the city would shut off water in that case.
"We're not saying either way," she said. "We are convinced that we are on strong legal ground to do this. I can't say whether we will or not. That's the call of the mayor and city council."
The squabble started in July when city manager Carey Smith met with homeowners from three neighborhoods - Miller Pond, Miller Pond II and Summerwood - roughly seven miles northwest of downtown Rock Hill, to announce plans to annex them.
Taking control of that area would let the city better manage commercial development along S.C. 161, Smith said.
City officials were invoking an agreement they had made with the neighborhood's developer. In that pact, the city promised to provide utilities in exchange for annexation at a later date. That obligation passed on to future property owners.
After residents resisted, raising questions about annexation laws and the city's motives, Rock Hill set a deadline: Agree to join the city by Sept. 15 or lose water service.
Of 121 property owners in the three subdivisions, 21 signed up. Two came from Miller Pond.
Rock Hill's draw-down eased tensions that were quickly escalating Thursday and Friday after city workers drove through the neighborhood planting blue flags in yards, signifying which homeowners would lose water on Monday.
Friday morning, leaders of Miller Pond's homeowners association sent an e-mail to Rock Hill officials threatening to hold the city responsible for "any and all damages that result."
"The City of Rock Hill is aware that the residents of Miller Pond and surrounding neighborhoods include elderly people (some with medical conditions), people that have disabilities, special needs children, young children, newborn babies," the e-mail read.
Across the neighborhood, residents vowed to stand their ground and prepared for the worst.
"I am not giving in," said Beadie Hayslett, who stocked up on bottled water and planned to fill 40-gallon tubs to hold her family over.
"I'm standing unified with our neighbors. We can learn to be resourceful."
Several houses away, Anthony Foster looked on as a surveyor marked his yard for well drilling.
Foster worried about his 13-year-old daughter.
"They're talking about it at school," he said.
Residents whose lawns were blue-flag-free offered to let marked neighbors borrow their showers. Several nearby churches did the same.
A portable toilet, donated by Tidy Toilets, stood at the neighborhood entrance.
Signs advertising well drilling businesses sprung up throughout the neighborhood.
Before Rock Hill changed course, residents fumed.
"It's terrible," homeowner Dennis Partyka said early Friday afternoon. "It's nothing short of extortion. To come in and threaten a hundred homes, it's Gestapo tactics."
"My husband just got back from Afghanistan and this is the thanks we get," Hayslett said. "My son's due back from Afghanistan on Monday. It's a disgrace the way the city's handling this."
Tammy Mackey worried about her teenage sons.
"My son said, 'I am not going to school if I can't take a shower,'" she said. "What do you say? I don't know what to tell him."
By late afternoon, tempers had cooled.
"At least they're willing to listen and try to come to a compromise," Hayslett said.
"That's progress. It's a little bit of relief, but you've still got anxiety because you don't know what happens next."
Down the street, Herschel Carter wasn't buying in.
"To me, it's just lingo," he said. "They can come back in two weeks and do this all over again. The city went too far threatening everybody. They could've done this a long time ago.
"Scaring all these people with all these kids, that ain't right."
Later that evening, city workers drove through Miller Pond and took back the blue flags.