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Author Topic: Follow up letter regarding annexation of the Port of Georgetown  (Read 178 times)
Tom Rubillo
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« on: March 12, 2019, 04:12:14 PM »

The following letter has been sent to Mayor Barber, with copies to the Administrator, members of City Council and the City's Planning and Economic Development Director:

Dear Mayor Barber:

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Tom Rubillo
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2019, 04:24:19 PM »

     Earlier this year I sent an open letter to you and other elected officials urging that the City of Georgetown, acting through City Council, invite the South Carolina Ports Authority to agree to the annexation of the Port of Georgetown into the city limits.  That letter set out detailed reasons in support of the proposal and included a list of benefits to both he Ports Authority and city residents associated with annexation.
     Shortly after circulating this letter I received an e-mail from Interim City Administrator Carey Smith.  It did not oppose annexation.  Instead, Carey suggested that the proposal not be taken up by City Council until after he had an opportunity to talk with County Administrator Sel Hemingway about it.  Carey wanted to make certain that the county did not have any specific plans for future use or development of Port property that could be disrupted by efforts at annexation.  I found this request for delay to be reasonable at the time and have waited patiently to hear something further.
     About two months have passed since Carey's e-mail to me, all without any word back from Carey Smith, Sel Hemingway or anyone else.  I also have not received any indication that the annexation proposal is being placed on the City Council's agenda for discussion or consideration, whether at a workshop or otherwise.  Instead, it appears that the question of annexation is, for all practical purposes and unexplained reasons, dead in the water.
     Quite frankly, I have been a little distressed by the prolonged silence that followed Carey's initial 3-mail.  Motivated by that disappointment, I made some inquiries on my own.  I now have it on excellent authority high within county government at that Georgetown County has absolutely no plans regarding the future of the Port that could or would be disrupted by annexation of that property into the city.  Under those circumstances the City of Georgetown is poised to become a major play and decision-maker regarding the property, assuming, of course, that the property is incorporated into the city's limits.
     The bottom line here is that there is no further need for delay.  Moving forward with efforts to invite the South Carolina Ports Authority to subject its local property to the jurisdiction of the City of Georgetown will not upset any apple carts with Georgetown County or anyone else.  To the contrary, the sort of governmental cooperation envisioned by the effort would serve the best interests of the Ports Authority as well as all the residents of Georgetown, both the city and the county.  Accordingly, I urge you to take up the matter with the other members of the Georgetown City Council at the earliest available date.  I also ask that I receive advance notice of when the matter is to be discussed so that I can address the members of the Council about the subject and answer any questions they may have about it.

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Marty Tennant
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2019, 11:03:32 PM »

Go Tom. Persistence!
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Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.
concernedperson
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2019, 09:44:10 PM »

Another month has gone by. Anything being done about the port?
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Tom Rubillo
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2019, 02:13:37 PM »

Yeah, I noticed.  It is just one of the numerous eyesores that create a very slovenly impression to all who pass through town.  Other very obvious examples include (but certainly are not limited to) (1) the very unsightly and highly contaminated steel mill property along Front Street between Dozier and Wood recently made much more visible by removal of the old solid fence and its replacement by a see-through chain link one, (2) long abandoned buildings (a) or the corner of Prince and Dozier that used to be the offices of Greene Construction Co., (b) a long abandoned building near the corner of Dozier and Front adjacent to the railroad tracks, (c) several abandoned buildings along Fraser south of Front Street and across the street from the steel mill, (d) the abandoned bank building and abandoned Winyah Gym on the site of the old Potter's Field, (e) the unsightly mess maintained by the ice company on the Potter's Field site at the corner of Highmarket and Fraser, (e) the long vacant and abandoned "Playboy Gardens" on Merriman Road, (f) several abandoned and crumbling houses along Merriman Road, (g) two overgrown lots with a falling down shack on one of them on Merriman Road a block or so past Winyah St on the right hand side as you head toward the paper mill, and a long abandoned "supermarket" building about a block south of Front Street near 1st Calvary Baptist Church,  Aside from giving the town a very run down appearance, each of these abandoned locations is a fire hazard, a potential crime scene, an "attractive nuisance" potentially luring children, vagrants, drug users and others to misadventure., potential breeding grounds for rats, snakes and other vermin, and, of equal importance, detract from the value of surrounding real estate and, indeed, of all property in the City of Georgetown.  All of these eyesores need to be cleaned up.  There is an existing procedure set out in both state law and local ordinances for putting property owners on notice and requiring that they abate the nuisances they are creating, renovate their buildings and bring them up to existing building codes or tear them down and clear the property of debris.  Once on notice, owners have 90 days to act.  If they fail to do so, the city can tear the properties down and charge the cost back to the property owner.  This is done by placing a lien on the property that has to be satisfied when the property is sold or, in the alternative, by foreclosure and forced sale.  It is all quite legal.  The procedure was successfully followed to demolish a "drug supermarket" during my tenure at City Hall.     While I understand that this all sounds quite heavy handed, it is no more so than the actual economic and reputational harm being inflicted on the city and its residents by neglectful, uncaring property owners who are perfectly willing to assault the eyes of passers by, diminish the value of surrounding properties owned by their neighbors, and allow their unsightly and slovenly messes to diminish the opinions of visitors and potential investors about the quality and beauty of Georgetown.    Do I make myself clear or is further explanation required? 
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