Lexington County Council votes to force owners to sell land

tflach@thestate.comJuly 23, 2013 

Lexington County, SC


  • Moving to promote new tax

    Lexington County has a name for its campaign to obtain a new penny on the dollar sales tax sought to pay for roads, sewers, parks and other projects.

    It will be known as the Penny for Progress, county council chairman Bill Banning of West Columbia said Tuesday.

    Council members appointed banker Mike Crapps of Lexington as the first member of a panel that will come up with the plan on how tax revenues would be used. Two other appointees are expected when council members meet Aug. 27.

    The tax proposal is expected to be submitted to voters for approval on the November 2014 ballot.

— Lexington County is moving to end a deadlock stalling improvements to ease congestion at a busy intersection.

A divided County Council agreed Tuesday to force landowners to sell slivers of frontage so the U.S. 378-Corley Mill Road intersection near I-20 can be widened to carry more traffic.

It’s too late for the improvements to be in place once River Bluff High School on Corley Mill opens Aug. 19, but county leaders hope to have the project done before classes end in June.

The step came after landowners backed away from providing slivers totaling 1.1 acres needed to widen the intersection on the east edge of the town of Lexington.

“This whole area is exploding with growth,” council chairman Bill Banning of West Columbia said. “We’ve got to get this done.”

State traffic counts estimate 30,000 vehicles travel through the intersection daily, making it among the busiest in the Midlands.

Enrollment at the new school exceeding 1,400 students is expected to worsen bottlenecks there, particularly for morning rush hour commuters.

Council members decided 7-2 to acquire the slivers through condemnation, a step that councilmen Bobby Keisler of Red Bank and Frank Townsend of Batesburg-Leesville opposed.

It’s a move that county leaders rarely take in deference to conservative ideals, but most council members say it’s necessary this time.

“This is not something Lexington County does, but we have to think about the whole community,” council member Debbie Summers of Springdale said.

The move came after councilman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo said year-old talks to acquire the slivers through purchase or donation collapsed.

“We’ve tried everything we know to try,” he said. “We’re no closer today than the first day we started.”

The move is contingent on Lexington 1 school officials paying its cost, but council members are confident that will happen.

School officials aren’t balking, but haven’t signed off on the idea.

“From the beginning, we have offered to chip in $2 million for the project,” school spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said. “We’ve never specified its use.”

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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