Sumter veterans group shows its appreciation to council with gift

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 7/12/18

Sumter County Council received a gift from Sumter County Veterans Association and considered first readings to facilitate the expansion of a local business on Myrtle Beach Highway and the establishment of a cemetery along Thomas Sumter Highway …

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Sumter veterans group shows its appreciation to council with gift

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Sumter County Council received a gift from Sumter County Veterans Association and considered first readings to facilitate the expansion of a local business on Myrtle Beach Highway and the establishment of a cemetery along Thomas Sumter Highway during its meeting on Tuesday.

Church congregation requests rezoning for cemetery

Reading: First of three

Request: Anointed Word Christian Worship Center requests that county council rezone a 1.9-acre portion of a 4.85-acre parcel at 3425 Thomas Sumter Highway from general commercial to residential-9 to establish a cemetery.

Background: The church received approval in 2017 to build a church and cemetery on the property, but it was later determined the project would not be possible because the rear portion of the land is located in a special flood hazard area, according to a staff report.

Though the project was halted, church members still intend to use the front 1.9-acre portion as an off-site church cemetery. Cemeteries are a permitted as an on-site accessory use with churches in general commercial districts and as stand-alone conditional uses in the residential-9 districts.

Planning department staff and the Sumter City-County Planning Commission recommend council consider amending the county zoning ordinance to permit cemeteries as conditional uses in the general commercial district.

The property is split-zoned general commercial in the front and residential-9 in the rear, but the majority of the residential-9 portion, which is about two-thirds of the property, is in the flood zone. The applicant is asking that the 1.9-acre general commercial portion that is not in the flood zone be rezoned for the establishment of the cemetery.

Discussion: "We don't permit cemeteries in commercial districts today," Sumter City-County Planning Department Director George McGregor McGregor said.

Cemeteries are only permitted in the county as conditional uses in residential-6, residential-9 and general residential districts and as conditional uses in agricultural conservation districts with signatures from adjacent property owners, he said.

"Before I would be willing to do a rezoning, I'd like to know if DHEC would allow a cemetery there," Councilman Artie Baker said after mentioning how the property was submerged under several feet of water during the 1,000-year-flood in 2015.

McGregor said planning staff will reach out to DHEC. Baker also asked who would maintain the cemetery 100 years from now, especially with the property being located along a main road in the county. Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney said the location does not seem like the ideal place for a cemetery because a portion of the land is in a flood zone.

She said though she tries to vote in favor of people using their property, she is also concerned the specific location may not be ideal because it has already flooded before.

Councilman Chris Sumpter said he has talked to members of the congregation about the beautification and maintenance of the cemetery and asked if designs of the project could be provided during council's next meeting.

Vote: Unanimous approval

Sumter County Veterans Association shows appreciation to council

What they said: "We're here today for one purpose," said Harry Bishop, past president and current historian of Sumter County Veterans Association. "To thank you again for your hard work in helping us to obtain a new Sumter County veterans flag park."

The additions to Sumter Veterans Park, along Broad Street Extension next to Shaw Air Force Base, will be an everlasting symbol of the courage and the actions of county and state veterans and their families, he said.

Why they did it: County council previously approved an amendment to the county's 2017 budget to include $500,000 in additional expenditures to construct walking trails, add more parking and green space and bring in a replica P-51C Mustang flown by Tuskegee Airmen. Sumter City Council is also committed to contributing $500,000 to the project.

"We have pushed for this park for approximately 11 years," Bishop said.

The park will serve as a place to honor American veterans who have gone before us as well as a welcome-home site for all veterans and their families who pass this way, he said.

Support from county and state officials as well as Shaw Air Force Base has made it happen, he said.

How they did it: In appreciation of council's help in making the expansion of the park possible, the veterans association presented council members with a framed photo from the groundbreaking that took place on Memorial Day this year, May 28.

Council chairman Jim McCain thanked the veterans association for its service to the country and the gift.

"This is in honor of your service and the service of others who came before you and the service of those that will come after you," he said.

Request to permit used motor vehicle parts use

Reading: First

Request: Carolina Truck & Trailer Parts requests that council amend the planned development for a 9.95-acre portion of undeveloped land at 350 Myrtle Beach Highway to permit used motor vehicle parts to facilitate the company's physical expansion.

Background: Carolina Truck & Trailer Parts has existed at 300 Myrtle Beach Highway since 2012 and has expanded its business onto a 9.95-acre portion of a neighboring 47-acre lot - also owned by the company - at 350 Myrtle Beach Highway.

The 47 acres are part of a planned development that was approved by council in 2005 to be used for a wholesale nursery, but that project did not come to fruition.

According to a staff report from the planning department, Carolina Truck & Trailer Parts is currently using the 9.95 acres for overflow storage for vehicles and parts until they are recycled or repurposed. The 9.95-acre portion is set back from the highway by several hundred feet, which includes about 100 feet of wooded area, according to McGregor.

Planning staff and the Sumter City-County Planning Commission recommend approval of the request, he said.

Discussion: Baker asked if rezoning the 9.95 acres to heavy industrial - which allows salvage yards as an outright use - would be a better option for the applicant because the operations on the property at 300 Myrtle Beach Highway are similar to the operations of a salvage yard.

McGregor said he will look into taking that route and will let council know what the impact could be at the group's next meeting.

Vote: Unanimous approval

Other agenda items considered by council on Tuesday will be included in an upcoming edition of The Sumter Item.