By Al Dozier
The Irmo Town Council is considering establishing a Town Center that would provide new zoning requirements for a business area of Irmo between the Town Park and Woodrow Street.
The plan, recommended by the town’s planning commission, would establish new guidelines for properties that would affect sidewalks, parking areas, street lighting and building heights.
Irmo Mayor Hardy King recommended a smaller map of the proposed town center than that submitted by the commission but the council agreed to proceed with a plan that both the planning commission and council could work together in implementing. Councilman Barry Walker recommended citizen input into the plan.
Although the council has already approved an ordinance to increase franchise fees from 3 percent to 4 percent for providers of natural gas, electricity and cable fees, Mayor Hardy King introduced a new measure that reduces that fee from 4 to 3.5 percent.
Councilman Barry Walker, who supported the original increase, voted in favor of the new measure, siding with King and Councilman Mark Pouliot in a 3-2 vote. Council members Kathy Condom and Julius Waites opposed the decrease.
When asked about his vote after the meeting Walker suggested it might change before getting third reading approval.
The franchise fee hike is part of a continuing effort by the council to make sure revenues are available to meet rising expenditures. The 4 percent increase is expected to bring in approximately $195,000 annually.
In other action the council approved a measure authorizing the Municipal Association to assist in recovery costs of delinquent debts.
The council also approved an agreement with Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative and SCE&G on a new map showing municipal boundaries for electrical service.
The council approved a request to close portions of Church Street, Lake Murray Boulevard, St. Andrews Road and Battery Road during the Okra Strut Festival Sept. 28-29.
The council also approved a request from organizer Jada Powell for a “Trunk or Treat” Halloween event at the Community Park of Irmo on October 2.
The council heard a presentation from Jacqueline Buck of Keep the Midlands Beautiful on a planned Fall Clean Up October 20 at Irmo High School. Residents can dispose of electronics, scrap metal, household wastes and pesticides. Paper products can be shredded on site.
The council gave first reading approval to an ordinance that provides an exemption from the town’s parking restrictions in residential areas for those who have a handicapped sticker on their vehicle.
The council also agreed to a revision of the town ordinances that clarifies the language in the town’s appointment authority over municipal court judges. King said there are conflicts with the current ordinance and state laws on how such appointments should be made.
The council held a brief discussion on a proposal to relocate the town’s courts to the county systems and thereby save a large amount of judicial expenses. After reviewing the idea, town officials said it is unlikely the town would save money in the long run because the counties would charge the town for court services and require law enforcement officers to travel to different court locations.