The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

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County Council, November 7

Council Schweers concerned about compensation over I-526 extension
Proposal to take down election signs within 7 days after an election
Warwick Jones

It wasn’t on the agenda and he didn’t want to discuss it tonight. But Council member Schweers thought that a discussion on I-526 was necessary in view of meetings between some Council members and the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB). He thought discussion should be on a future agenda. The Council member didn’t get what he hoped for. There was hostility to the request from Chairman Pryor and derision from Council member Summey. And there was considerable discussion.

Council member Schweers was one of the four Council members who opposed the extension of I-526 at the December 12 Council meeting. His request last night was prompted by concern for the liability facing the County if the I-526 extension were built. He noted that the DOT and the SIB, following the meetings with some Council members, stated they had no liability to meet any claims for compensation to property owners as promised/suggested at the December 12 Council meeting. Council member Schweers asked who was going to pay this compensation and suggested that it was beyond the means of the County.

Chairman Pryor, as he has many times, refuted the claim that the County had committed to making cash payments to those who have suffered loss. The County would look to other ways to make up for any adverse impact - through buffers, walls, drainage etc. Council member Summey made similar comments and reminded Council that the original motion had words such as “study” and “potential“. Council member Johnson who proposed the “compensation” amendment at the December 12 meeting told Council to “just read what I said”. Council member Rawl suggested that all discussion was premature until the Environmental Impact Study was completed.

We confess to leaving the December 12 meeting with the belief that the County would offer cash compensation to affected property owners. (See posting County Council, December 12, 2012) We attach the proposal by Council member Summey and the amendments by Council member Johnson. Both were approved by Council in a 5 to 4 vote. Paragraph 4 of Council member Johnson’s amendments is the most critical. We ask if there were no plan to provide compensation, why would staff be tasked with the gargantuan task of assessing damage. It would be a pointless exercise. But we’ll let viewers form their own opinion. Press Download file to see Council member Johnson's amendments and press Download file to see the motion by Council member Summey.

We agree with Mayor Riley that there will be litigation associated with the extension of I-526 though his opinion had more to do with construction rather than the County’s liability. And as we have said before, how much damage can property owners claim? The I-526 extension has been on the books for more than 20 years and printed on road maps from that time. Any purchaser of property since the extension was first proposed should have been aware of its possibility. And if they were aware, how can they legitimately claim compensation?


Members of the Planning and Public Works Committee had some differences over changes to the Zoning and Land Development Regulations (ZLDR) amendments proposed by the Planning Commission. There were a number of changes proposed and the Committee accepted the majority. But there was unanimity that the 15 day period after an election to remove political signs was too long. After some discussion, the period was reduced to 7 days. If there were a runoff, then the candidates in the run off could keep their signs up until 7 days after the run off.

Council member Condon also had as issue as to home occupation signs in Residential areas. The Planning Commission confined signs to the dwelling structure or a fence. The Council member thought signs should be allowed to be free standing. The Committee was split and the issue was to go to Council for a final vote. Council member Darby was absent last night. Interestingly, no Council member questioned the change in County policy in relation to home occupation signs in general. Signs will be allowed as opposed to the policy of the City of Charleston and the Town of Mount Pleasant where such signs are not allowed in Residential areas.

It was all moot. Normally, meetings of the full Council occur on the Tuesday following the Thursday Committee meetings. Last night, the Council meeting followed on the Committee meetings. At the latter meeting, County Administrator Taylor said there were issues with all the ZLDR amendments that needed to be reviewed by the Legal Department. So the vote was deferred but we suspect after the review, there will be few changes.

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