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City Council April 11

Differences on annexations
Smoking ban back on agenda
Marc Knapp

It was a lean meeting for news. It seems the Post & Courier shared our view. Its commentary on last night's City Council meeting was confined to a report on annexations. Annexations have been a common feature of just about every meeting for the last 12 months also. What happened last night would normally pass with little or no comment.

As most citizens are aware, the City has been active in annexing property on James Island and West Ashley. There were 16 properties up for approval last night. Council members gave them the nod with the exception of Council member Fishburne. He voted against the annexations on the grounds that they were stretching the City, that the properties were too far away to be properly serviced. He suggested that the City confine annexations closer to present boundaries. He was also responding to comments by the Mayor and other council members. They were encouraging annexations, and suggesting that citizens in unincorporated areas close to the City be contacted and encouraged to join the City. One Council member suggested that recent annexations were filling in the "doughnut holes". Council member Fishburne noted that it was the tendency of the City "to go out and then fill in". He thought the City had gone too far.

We share Council member's view
We share Council member Fishburne's view. We are not sure what motivates the City, whether it's an attempt to build its tax base or just deeper political motives. But it is disingenuous to say that the City is simply filling in the doughnut holes. In military terms, the City is using pincer movements in its annexation policy. It penetrates the targeted area, encircles it and then mops up what is left. Its policy is hardly benign. And the Mayor's comment that annexations do not go beyond the County-defined urban growth boundary seems quite irrelevant.

Citizen participation
Citizen participation time brought out some comments. Mr. Arthur Lawrence, President of the West-side Neighborhood Association thanked the City for its recent efforts to clean up drug dealing on some of the streets in the neighborhood. Some help was still needed on some specific sites. Yours truly made comment about the better synchronization of traffic lights. I have been drawing attention to the lack of coordination for some time. Whether the improvement resulted from these comments or was just coincidence, we'll never know. I also reminded Council that I had been belly aching for some years now about the lack of detail provided by CARTA in its annual budget. The budget figures made available for the public were confined to a single page. This level of detail was quite inadequate for the public utility and which was planning on spending close to $18 million this year. It seems that the public is agreeing with me, as evidenced by a recent report in the Post & Courier. Of course this could make little difference to CARTA.

Smoking ban to go on agenda
And finally, Council member Tinkler has got the issue of smoking in bars and restaurants back on the agenda. The Mayor agreed to put it there for next month, though he did not seem enthusiastic. Nor were other Council members. Council member Lewis noted that the State was considering legislation dealing with smoking in public the places. Presumably, he was suggesting that consideration at this time might be a wasted effort.

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