Fort Mill Times

Indian Land is a step closer to its townhood vote. See what steps remain.

Indian Land incorporation vote

Indian Land, South Carolina residents will get an opportunity to vote in a referendum to see if the northern panhandle of Lancaster County should become a town.
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Indian Land, South Carolina residents will get an opportunity to vote in a referendum to see if the northern panhandle of Lancaster County should become a town.

The checklist for getting to an Indian Land townhood vote is dwindling.

On Tuesday morning, the group behind a push to incorporate Indian Land announced it submitted nominations for election commissioners to hold a referendum. Voters for a Town of Indian Land emailed the message to supporters and posted it on the social media, calling the move “a major milestone on our journey to controlling our future.”

Later that afternoon, they got more news.

“We were pleased to receive word that the commissioners had been empowered to hold an election on incorporating Indian Land,” said Matt McCusker, committee member with the pro-incorporation group.

“Ryan Potter, Michael Sykes and Melvin Threatt will be managing the election and they will determine the vote date. It has been a long road and we are ready for Indian Land residents to finally have local control over their money, their growth and their future,” he said.

State law lists a great many requirements for incorporation. A state joint legislative committee has to recommend it to the secretary of state. Which happened last fall. The secretary of state then chooses three or more people from the area proposed for incorporation as a commission set up to hold an election.

Once the secretary of state appoints that commission, a vote comes in 20 to 90 days.

So far, an election date hasn’t been set. When it is, the information has to be published in a newspaper serving the area or in three public places there. All registered voters within the proposed municipal limits will be able to vote, with a simple majority deciding the issue.

Voters will choose whether to incorporate, what name the municipality should have, its form of government, method of election, partisan or nonpartisan nature of elections and terms of a mayor and council members. Any votes with more than two choices, like if several forms of government are options on the ballot, will go to the highest vote-getter without need of a total majority.

Once an election date is set, there is likely to be continued debate on whether Indian Land should become a town. On the flip side of “Voters for a Town of Indian Land” and the related “Vote Yes for Indian Land” are online groups such as “No to Indian Land Incorporation” and “Vote No to the Town of Indian Land.”

Supporters of incorporation say the taxes paid by a growing Indian Land community should stay in that community rather than subsidizing other communities in the county, and that a town could better handle issues like planning and zoning than the county can. Opponents say they aren’t confident in the budget numbers used to file for incorporation, and worry incorporation would bring more taxes for little or no additional value.

The incorporation effort in Indian Land already yielded one new South Carolina town. Residents in the Van Wyck community, bristling at the idea of being included in a new Indian Land, rallied to incorporate themselves instead. They started later but, with a much smaller population, were able to get through the legislative process quicker.

Van Wyck elected its mayor and council in November.