City Council Designates Arts Center Funding; Other

 In Local News

Newberry City Council voted Tuesday to approve a request to designate proceeds of the sale of parcel 401-64 on Dixie Drive to the Newberry Arts Center. Motion was made by Councilperson Carlton Kinard and seconded by Councilperson Jackie Holmes.

The city received $665,000 for the sale of the parcel. Interim City Manager Ed Driggers said it was staff’s recommendation to designate $600,000 of that funding for the arts center, with the remaining $65,000 for repairs that were needed at the dam on the Newberry Recreation Complex property.

“This will allow us to have designated funds when we need to make those repairs,” Driggers said.

Mayor Foster Senn shared good news from Newberry including the most recent employee spotlight, firefighter Rhett Lindler. Other highlights included speaking engagements by both the police and fire departments, a presentation of colors done by the Newberry Fire Department Honor Guard, and the opening of the UPS store in the Shops at Heritage.

For Black History Month, Senn highlighted several individuals including Dr. Julian Edward Grant, Israel Brooks and Dr. Ulysses Gallman – all of which have parks named in their memory in the city.

Under old business, second and final reading of an ordinance amending the city’s business license ordinance by adding a new class 9 rate category was approved by council. Motion to approve second reading was made by Councilperson Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Holmes.

Prior to second reading a public hearing on the above ordinance was held. With no one speaking in favor or opposition to the ordinance, Senn declared the public hearing closed.

Second and final reading was then passed of an ordinance to amend the zoning and future land use map for parcel 341-1-19-1 at Nance Street to R6.

The Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification of R6.

Motion to approve second reading was made by Kinard and seconded by Holmes.

New Business

Under new business, council authorized the interim city manager to execute a commercial lease agreement with Newberry College for use of Oakland Tennis Center.

In addition to serving the tennis needs of the Newberry community, Senn said the tennis center had also served as the home of Newberry College tennis since its opening. The original lease is expiring, and this would begin a new, five-year lease agreement with the college.

“We’re always proud to partner with Newberry College,” Senn said.

Motion to approve was made by Holmes and seconded by Councilperson David DuBose.

Council also authorized two appointments to the Newberry Housing Authority board. The board had two positions with expired terms, Senn said. However, they agreed if appointed to begin a new term.

Motion was made by Councilperson David Force and seconded by Glasgow to reappoint both Tonya Jeter and Cornelius Cromer to the board.

Also under new business, council approved the interim city manager to execute a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with West Development to provide utilities and take ownership of West Haven Avenue and Millstone Drive.

Driggers said West Development approached the city with plans to do additional development in the area (surrounding the former Papa John’s location) and also requested water and sewer services. He said West Development asked the city to take future ownership of the newly constructed road.

“We’ve reviewed that agreement and provided that to the city attorney to develop a MOU,” Driggers said. “We’re in agreement with the developer and we think it’s in the best interest of the city to accept that agreement.”

Motion to approve was made by Glasgow and seconded by Kinard.

Consideration of an outside water request for a parcel located at 600 Cherry Lane was also approved by council Tuesday night. The property owner has agreed to execute an annexation covenant indicating a willingness to annex if the property becomes contiguous to the city limits and council determines it is in the best interest of the city to annex the property.

There is a $1,400 tap fee. However, there may be a possible extension. The customer will also pay the cost of the extension.

Motion to approve the request was made by DuBose and seconded by Holmes.

First reading of an ordinance was denied Tuesday to amend the zoning and future land use map for parcels 342-4, 342-6 and 342-7 located at 2040, 2044 and 2046 Wilson Road to RMX. This is a result of the owner’s petition to reclassify the parcel from GC – General Commercial to RMX – Mixed Use Residential.

The Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification of RMX – Mixed Use Residential for the zoning and future land use maps.

Senn said he spoke with Matt Jaegar of Retail Strategies with whom the city has a contract, who said most of the retail property in this area of the city was full. Jaegar said that end of Wilson Road had much momentum and the particular property proposed was one of the top 10 that Retail Strategies promotes to potential retail businesses.

Jaegar told Senn he felt that putting an apartment complex in the area would stop the momentum the area has.

“Over time we hope to attract more businesses and choices for our citizens,” Senn said. “Turning this property into residential is not a good move in my opinion.”

Motion to deny first reading was made by Senn and seconded by Holmes.

Council adopted first reading of an ordinance to establish an economic development incentive program. Motion was made by Kinard and seconded by Force.

This ordinance enacts an economic development tool available to cities – a special property tax assessment commonly referred to as the Bailey Bill. Enacted in 1992, the Bailey Bill allows local governments to offer a property tax abatement to encourage the rehabilitation of historic properties.

For a period of no more than 20 years, the local government can lock in a special property tax assessment based on the property’s fair market value prior to rehabilitation. This allows the property owner to avoid local property tax payments on the increased value resulting from eligible renovations. The abated value is the difference between the fair market value of the building at the start of renovation and the fair market value of the building after renovation.

In order to be eligible for the special tax assessment, historic properties must receive preliminary certification by City Council and final certification from the city’s Planning and Development department and city council.

Historic designation is made based on one or more of the following:

  • The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places;
  • The property is designated as an historic property by the City Council and is at least 50 years old, or
  • The property is at least 50 years old and is located in a historic district designated by the city within the geographical area of the city.

The property’s owner must meet minimum expenditures when rehabilitating the building , with expenditures for rehabilitation exceeding 75% of the fair market value of an owner-occupied building or 50% of the fair market value of an income producing building prior to such rehabilitation. “Fair Market Value” means the appraised value certified to the city by a real estate appraiser licensed by the state of South Carolina or the most recent appraised value published by the Newberry County Tax Assessor.

Driggers said while the city did not have a specific project that had requested it, that if one was received they’d like the ability to have this in place to speed things along.

A request to allow alcohol in designated event areas for Pork in the Park was then approved by council with a motion from DuBose and seconded by Force.

The city’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism department requested permission to allow beer and wine only, served and sold by approved event vendors using plastic cups to be no larger than 16 ounces, to be taken from the respective vendors into the event area. This would allow event patrons to travel the event area with an alcoholic beverage of beer or wine only, by foot, if they are carrying the allowed beverage in a plastic cup.

Event patrons will be carded and over 21 wristbands provided to them by the approved event vendor(s). Liquor consumption is not to be permitted in the event area.

The Pork in the Park event area includes: Main Street from Nance to College Street, Boyce Street from Nance to Caldwell Street, McKibben Street from Boyce to Main Street and Caldwell Street from Boyce to Main Street.

Interim City Manager’s Report

In his report to council, Driggers shared that the city was actively searching for the next city manager and the job had been shared among many professional organizations as well as locally. Applications for the position will be accepted through March 10.

Also planned is a joint meeting between city council and the Newberry Planning Commission, Driggers said prior to the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year.  Making sure the two groups had dialogue was something that came from council’s planning retreat in January, he said.

Priorities identified by council at their planning retreat will be brought forward in the form of a resolution at council’s meeting in March with the goal of adopting the resolution and developing strategies on how to achieve those priorities, Driggers said.

Driggers brought forward to council the idea to support O’Neal Street Church on their community efforts in their warming center, available to citizens during extreme cold temperatures. City Council’s special projects fund will be allocating $2,000 to the group’s efforts.

Motion to approve this recommendation was made by Councilperson Edwin Wicker and seconded by Kinard. The motion passed unanimously.

An announcement was made to conclude the meeting in welcoming Robbie Seigler as the municipal clerk for the city.

City Council will meet again on Tuesday, March 12 at 7 p.m.