WINNSBORO — A targeted, systematic approach is being used by Fairfield County code enforcement officers as they work to make sure that all county properties meet exterior code requirements.
That approach, as well as zoning measures and other quality of life improvements dominated the county council agenda at its final January meeting.
Dan Vismor reported on county code enforcement as did Code Enforcement Officer Lashonda Adams. The code enforcement effort they reported has been twofold: to initiate the implementation of the property maintenance code and to concentrate the code enforcement in one area of the county at a time.
South Winnsboro and the mill village has been the focal area which Vismor said allows the county to have the maximum impact in an area. Of the 608 addresses in the area, 4 percent were found in violation, 77 percent were not in violation, 9 percent were processing violations and 10 percent had violations corrected.
The next targeted area will be outside of Ridgeway. GIS will map the town and the central and eastern part will be worked on. A public hearing is tentatively set for February to help streamline the procedural format for the assessments.
Resident complaints are another way to get the code enforcement officers to come to a particular location. Once they are at that location, they will then proceed to evaluate the entire street that the property sits on. Only violations that the officers can observe from the public right of way or from a home in which the homeowner allows them to enter and then look out at a neighbor’s property can be acted upon.
If a privacy fence keeps a trashy yard from being visible, then that area would be in compliance under county ordinances.
Council Chairman David Ferguson recommended, however, that either a hard shell permanent fence to provide a barrier or that nothing be done at all, noting the ineffectiveness of some of the temporary barriers currently in place.
Per procedure, house numbers and tax records are used to contact the property owners. A property’s validity is determined by the county ordinances. In cases of abandoned vehicles, owners have 72 hours to have them removed but sometimes the county can work with people if extenuating circumstances arise. Excessive trash must be cleaned up within 72 hours. Under Ordinance 410, litter of less than 15 pounds carries a $515 fine. Litter offenses are a criminal offense and are kept on file. The county has four code enforcement officers.
Ferguson said they learned at a seminar it actually is cheaper for the county to provide a trash bin free of charge for residents to dispose of property rather than to continue to place notices and pursue the case through the courts.
Cleaning up areas in the county can help with an economic impact, said Dwayne Perry, council vice chairman.
“According to the State Department of Commerce (prospective businesses) look at the county to see the pride that their prospective employees take in their county because that type of behavior comes through in work habits as well. And we have pride in our county,” Perry said.
Clerk to Council Shryll Brown reminded board members of upcoming photo ID law workshops on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. Council will hold a special work session Feb. 6. A public hearing will be Feb. 18 and county council meetings will be Feb. 11 and Feb. 25.
In new business:
• Council unanimously approved a 60-day extension of the deadline for apply for agricultural land use property for the 2012 tax year.
• First reading passed unanimously on three zoning ordinances that would amend Fairfield County land management ordinances. Ordinance 611 would change zoning reclassification from general business to rural residential. Ordinance 612 would reclassify one acre of land as rural residential instead of general business. Ordinance 613 would change classification from rural residential to limited business. This change is needed to lead to the establishment of a health care facility in the Jenkinsville area. Public hearings and second readings of the ordinances will be held at a called meeting on Feb. 18. Final reading would be at the Feb. 25 meeting.
• Davis Anderson, deputy county administrator, told council that the county has made sure the same kind of radio EMS uses is in the lieutenants’ cars with the sheriff’s department. The county is working on a grant proposal that would fund upgrading the entire system. This change is in response to a recent incident where a bystander attacked and threatened first responders.
• Ferguson and County Administrator Phil Hinely met with Jeff Archie, senior vice president of nuclear operations at V.C. Summer, and SCANA to receive firsthand information about the slowing of construction on the new nuclear plants.
“They think they have the rebar problem rectified, but are waiting on Washington, D.C., for approval,” Ferguson said.
• Hinely reported that the County Transportation Committee has paid the county $747,000 of the $1 million it owed the county in reimbursement now that the committee has a chairman and can make payments. The balance stands at $197,000 and Hinely said they would work closer with the CTC to reduce lag time in payments. One idea being considered is a public hearing or meeting with all the stakeholders in the CTC.
• Hinely said the county now uses electronic W-2 forms and does its payroll electronically, which saves expenses on the county and increases efficiency.