Sumter County Council discusses feather flags, flood insurance

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 6/28/18

Sumter County Council began its discussion of allowing businesses to put up feather flags to draw in more customers and received an update about the county's flood insurance with Federal Emergency Management Agency which will lead to annual savings …

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Sumter County Council discusses feather flags, flood insurance

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Sumter County Council began its discussion of allowing businesses to put up feather flags to draw in more customers and received an update about the county's flood insurance with Federal Emergency Management Agency which will lead to annual savings for some homeowners. The public is also asked to participate in a survey that will ultimately shape the future of development in the county.

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Fluttering devices, feather signs

Reading: First

What it means: If approved, this ordinance effectively would amend the county's sign ordinance by adding flutter devices, including feather flags, said Sumter City-County Planning Department Director George McGregor.

Discussion: Sumter City-County Planning Commission held multiple meetings regarding the fluttering devices and discussed where the flags could be placed, how many flags each business could put up based on the size of the property and how long the flags could stay up, McGregor said.

Some members of the planning commission expressed concern that the flutter devices would be additional clutter on the highway corridor, he said.

McGregor said planning commission also talked about only allowing the flags in commercial and agricultural conservation zoned districts.

In the end, he said planning commission voted 3:2 to not recommend approval of adding feather flags to the county ordinance.

The three that voted against the request think the existing ordinance was reasonable and appropriate in terms of what kind of flags are allowed, he said.

Planning commission is not the deciding body for ordinances or requests and can only recommend that city and/or county councils approve or deny those issues. The final decision is made by city and county councils.

"If [the flags are] going to help their business, I don't know why we shouldn't allow it. At least in the county," councilman Artie Baker said.

Sometimes you could ride past a business and not even know it's there because they are spread out, he said.

Baker made a motion to approve first reading of the ordinance so that council could receive more information on the issue during its next meeting.

Vote: Unanimous approval

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FEMA flood insurance upgrade

Reading: Not a voting item

What it means:

In response to the county's efforts to protect its floodplains from incompatible developments, FEMA has raised the county's insurance rating - through its participation in the federal agency's National Flood Insurance Program - from an eight to a seven, based on a nine-to-one scale with one being the best rating, according to McGregor and FEMA's website.

What it means for you: McGregor said homeowners with flood insurance could see about $100 in annual savings.

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Sumter 2040 Comprehensive Plan Survey

Reading: Not a voting item

What it means: Sumter is required to update its comprehensive plan, a policy document that helps guide future growth and development, every 10 years, McGregor said.

He said Sumter's current comprehensive plan was adopted in December 2009.

The guide will reflect trends, the local labor force, environmental resources and transportation to determine where the county should direct residential, commercial and industrial development, McGregor said.

The update of the comprehensive plan will start with data collection through a survey - which takes about seven minutes to complete - that was released about six days ago.

McGregor said the planning department has received about 500 responses since the survey was put on city of Sumter's website, sumtersc.gov.

He said the survey will soon be posted on the county's website and paper surveys are currently available at Sumter Opera House, Sumter County Administration Building, Sumter City-County Planning Office, the HOPE Centers and Sumter County Library.

Significant public engagement is necessary for this to work, McGregor said.

He said the planning department will also hold public meetings in the future.