Chamber Presidents Want Land-Use Planning
Past board chairmen of the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce are prepared to work with the Laurens County Council and Planning Commission to develop a county law that would direct growth and "cluster" like-type developments throughout the county. It's not zoning, presenter and former Chamber board president King Dixon insisted today, and it's needed to address chicken houses, landfills and speedways - and so much more.
Dixon said at today's Laurens County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting, a PowerPoint presentation about the need for land-use planning has been shown to County Council members one-on-one or two-at-a-time over the past several months. Retiring County Administrator Ernie Segars, attending his final Chamber board meeting (he retires in March), said he has seen the presentation 4 times.
""This will be the fight of your life," Segars said. "There will be nay-sayers. It will be the most vicious, brutal, back-biting thing you can do."
And, Dixon indicated, the most important.
Laurens County is losing population - fast. It is the largest losing population fast county of the 12 such counties in South Carolina. The state overall is gaining population, becoming the 23rd largest by population state of the 50, recently surpassing Alabama in population. Most of the newcomers are clustering in the major cities - Dixon said areas adjoining these metro areas need to decide if they are going to manage the spill-over, or become the "landfills" of the large cities.
"We've all chosen to make our stand here in Laurens County," said Frank Stovall, adding that he was "taking off" his Chamber board president hat and his Clinton City Manager hat to make a personal statement. "(Laurens County) can be a dumping ground, or the paradise we all know it can be. The decision rests with us and this generation."
CEOs and human resource managers of the industries Laurens County has worked hard to recruit do not live in Laurens County. Dixon said one reason is they have no assurance that their multi-million houses will not, someday, sit beside a smelly landfill. To remedy that, Dixon suggested a land-use plan that would "cluster" like-type operations. All new the chicken farms would be permitted beside the current chicken farms - landfills would be restricted (the county has that ordinance now) and business corridors would be identified and protected.
"Taxes in Greenville and Spartanburg are going up," Dixon said. "We will get some of the residue from that, I'm not sure we want some of that residue." Segars said a solid waste management company that proposed a landfill near Fountain Inn is looking to permit a coal ash landfill in Pickens County, that facility would accept ash from North Carolina - the same thing could happen in Laurens County, he said.
Laurens County does not have a household waste landfill. It has a transfer station, off Hwy 56 near Clinton, where trash from the collection stations is transported, packaged and taken to a landfill in Union County. SC DHEC will permit a landfill if it meets the state health agency's regulations, without regard for traffic and dust, Segars said.
Land-use planning would make Laurens County more attractive for investment, Dixon said, providing more jobs, improving retail sales and stemming the tide of population leaving the county. "Land-use planning will avoid future bad neighbors," Dixon said. "(Without it) there are too many unknowns, too many risks."