Fort Mill Times

Annexations, utilities, part of Fort Mill Council decisions

Fort Mill Town Council met for a full agenda April 11. Here’s a rundown of their latest decisions and other town-related issues:

▪ Council voted to annex more than 15 acres on Whites Road. The property sits next to a site slated for a future high school. The move still has to pass second reading.

“It’ll be attached to the high school site and become part of the high school campus,” said Joe Cronin, town planning director.

Another annexation involves almost four acres at 601 Sutton Road. Council passed the first of two needed readings. The site sits across from Belle Crane Inn.

▪ Council voted an annex almost five acres at 1544 Sam Smith Road. The property, beside land owned by the town, was zoned for residential use but comes into the town with a light industrial zoning.

“To me this is a very reasonable request,” said Councilman Larry Huntley. “In fact, I don’t know what else you’d be able to do with it.”

▪ Paul Mitchell, town engineer, presented a plan from Level 3 Communications to pay $78,500 for space on the utility bridge crossing the Catawba River.

“Basically it’s a fiber line going across our utility bridge,” he said. “I would not recommend approval of a 20-year contract.”

That bridge has a gas and water line there now. About 60 percent of the space is used, but more will be needed for water or other utilities as the town grows. In five or 10 years, the town could need the space.

“Preserving weight and space is important,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell will work with the fiber optic provider to see if another crossing site is feasible. Relocating the line from the company’s proposed plan, he said, should be an option.

“I don’t think they’d have any problem with that,” Mitchell said.

▪ Kevin Madden with Greene, Finney & Horton credited the town for “running a tight ship,” saying town financials show a strong economic foothold for a growing community. Madden’s group gave the town an unmodified opinion for its latest audit.

“You received the best opinion you could,” Madden told Council.

▪ Council transferred $3.5 million from its general fund to a capital projects fund. The revenue can be used for a variety of capital needs, which were outlined on a list as part of the new impact fees instituted on new construction. Mayor Guynn Savage said the town has come a long way in a short time, from not having a detailed capital needs list to beginning the process of funding those needs.

▪ The town approved a new street acceptance policy. It includes a street inspection fee of $2 per linear foot for any road offered for acceptance into the town system. The new policy codifies town expectations before bringing in roads from a new development.

“It makes sure everything is up to standards,” said Dennis Pieper, town manager.

▪ Trudie Heemsoth was sworn in as the newest Council member, filling out the group after Guynn Savage left her seat to become mayor. Savage and other members welcomed Heemsoth, while still showing some disappointment in the low voter turnout in the three-candidate race Heemsoth won.

“It makes me more than sad,” Savage said. “It makes me angry.”

Even with multiple candidates, voter turnout didn’t reach 4 percent. Of more than 10,000 registered voters in town, only 375 cast a ballot.

“I think more than that come up to me to talk about town business each week,” Savage said.

▪ Public meetings are likely in May for the town’s unified development ordinance. The process of bringing together town codes related to development has been about a year in the making.

“A lot of our codes have been in place 30 years or more,” Cronin said. “It’s a pretty extensive undertaking.”

▪ The town passed a proclamation for Lineman Appreciation Day, recognizing workers both from Duke Energy and York Electric Cooperative. Savage, who spent decades in the utility business, said linemen are invaluable to a community in that, like other emergency personnel, they put their lives on hold when duty calls, regardless the danger. All to keep power up and running in Fort Mill.

“You don’t really appreciate it until it goes out,” Savage said.

Line of the Night

▪ Chantay Bouler, town finance director, lightened a numbers-heavy presentation for Council when she came to the line item for mausoleum sales. Sales are up a good bit compared to what the town projected they would be at this point in the fiscal year.

“I guess people are just dying to get in there,” Bouler said.