Feather flags to fly in Sumter, cemetery plans denied

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 7/26/18

Sumter County Council gave the go ahead for businesses to display feather flags and denied a rezoning request for a cemetery after residents spoke out against it on Tuesday night.

Feather flags finalLY

find favor to fly

Reading: Third and …

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Feather flags to fly in Sumter, cemetery plans denied

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Sumter County Council gave the go ahead for businesses to display feather flags and denied a rezoning request for a cemetery after residents spoke out against it on Tuesday night.

Feather flags finally find favor to fly

Reading: Third and final

Agenda item: A request from county council to amend portions of the county's development standards ordinance to allow certain fluttering devices, including feather flags, to encourage business visibility in the county.

Background: The amendment will allow feather flags in all commercial zoning districts and at model homes in residential districts, according to Sumter Planning Department Director George McGregor.

He said the planning department has added provisions to the amendment for feather flags to also be displayed at model homes in developing subdivisions and provisions of how to manage the signs.

Per suggestions from a previous council meeting, the amendment now includes language that will allow feather flags to be displayed permanently as long as they are in good condition.

McGregor said he, the Sumter zoning administrator and other members of planning staff will determine if flags are in good condition.

Properties with 50 linear feet of frontage are permitted two feather flags; property with 50-100 feet of linear frontage can have three flags; and a maximum of four flags can be placed on property with more than 100 feet of linear frontage, according to the amendment.

Discussion: Chairman Jim McCain said he preferred that final reading be deferred after councilman Artie Baker had already made a motion for approval. Two other council members seconded at the same time.

Vote: 5-2 approval - McCain and councilman Gene Baten voted against the amendment.

Church cemetery denied after opposition from area residents

Reading: Third and final

Agenda item: A request to rezone 1.9 acres of a 4.85-acre portion of land at 3425 Thomas Sumter Highway, across the street from an entrance into Kel-Sam Farm Subdivision, from general commercial to residential-9 for the development of a cemetery.

Background: Anointed Word Christian Worship Center, the applicant, received conditional use approval to construct a church and an associated cemetery on the property in 2017. The congregation has since found another location for the church but still intended to use the land for the cemetery.

All of the property is located in the county's Military Protection Zone which discourages developments that could lead to high densities of people. About half of the property, the rear portion, is in a flood plain.

Cemeteries are permitted as an accessory use with churches in general commercial districts and are permitted as standalone conditional uses in residential-9 districts, according to Sumter Planning Department.

McGregor said Department of Health and Environmental Control has no oversight nor regulations in permitting cemeteries in the state.

Public hearing: The pastor of Anointed Word Christian Worship Center said the church was able to buy a church building, rather than build one, at another location but the congregation still wanted to use the land on Thomas Sumter Highway for a cemetery because money was already spent to prepare the land for development.

"We want to use it as a standalone cemetery not only for the church, but to allow others to come in," the pastor said. "We don't plan to make the neighborhood a shameful place for people to live."

Five residents of Kel-Sam Farm Subdivision spoke against the rezoning stating concerns about coffins being exhumed if there is flooding; the long-term maintenance of the cemetery; the location of the cemetery in front of the subdivision entrance; and the potential reduction of property values.

Two other residents said they do not have an issue with the church using the land for another purpose that would benefit the congregation and community.

Discussion: Councilman Artie Baker said though he does not think cemeteries are particularly negative developments for an area, that location on Thomas Sumter Highway may be the wrong place for one. Baker said he has also seen firsthand how bad flooding can be in that area.

Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney said she understood both sides of the issue and hopes the church can find another option for its property that will be pleasing for the congregation and neighborhood.

Councilman Baker made a motion to deny the request, and Councilman Charles Edens seconded.

Vote: 6-1 denial - Councilman Chris Sumpter voted in favor.