Orangeburg resident Latisha Walker was sworn in as the newest member of Orangeburg County Council on Tuesday. Walker was elected to fill the District 7 seat left vacant by the death of Councilman Willie B. Owens, who served for 15 years.

Orangeburg County Council on Tuesday unanimously tabled a request to rezone property outside of Holly Hill to allow for the placement of a boat, recreational vehicle and equipment storage facility.

The property owner asked the county to rezone about 3.71 acres on Eutaw Road in Holly Hill from forest agriculture to rural community to allow the storage facility. The property is located near Garrett’s Body Shop and Auto.

Council tabled the matter to allow county staff to do further research after hearing concerns about the request from town officials.

“The town of Holly Hill for years has taken a back seat in the community,” Mayor Billy Chavis said. “And now is our time to come to the front. We have five neighborhoods coming to that area. All of those neighborhoods are going to have HOAs (home owners associations) involved.”

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Chavis said the storage facility will not fit in with the neighborhoods that are planned.

“That outdoor storage is going to be able to have whatever they want to have,” Chavis said. “In five or ten years, we can potentially have an eyesore in the community. The town of Holly Hill deserves better because we are annexing all those properties into the town of Holly Hill as we speak.”

Rebecca Vance, a consultant and planner for the town of Holly Hill, echoed Chavis’ concerns.

Vance noted there is a plan to build 74 single-family homes across the street from the property and a plan for over 390 single-family homes adjacent to the property.

Annexation of the 390-home project has already received first reading, Vance said. The annexation has been recommended for approval by the Holly Hill Planning Commission.

“Although we understand there may be a need for self-storage at some point, we just don’t think an open-air outdoor storage with gravel parking … is going to necessarily be conducive or be an asset to the community with single-family housing,” Vance said.

The Orangeburg County Planning Commission approved the rezoning during its Dec. 14 meeting, but the town of Holly Hill was unaware of the rezoning request at the time of the commission’s meeting.

In other business:

• Harvey Elwood, operator of WOCS 93.7 FM in Orangeburg, said the station is about to start its own television network that will cover Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun counties.

Elwood said the station has received about $1 million in mostly federal funds to help make the network a possibility.

He said the county has also contributed some funds.

The station will carry sports, news and weather.

• Council gave unanimous second reading to incentives for an unidentified company planning to invest $70 million in the county for the construction of a solar storage facility.

There will be no new jobs as a result of the project. There will be construction jobs and maintenance jobs.

The company is being identified at the time being as Project May. A company’s identity typically remains anonymous until third and final reading is given.

Solar storage refers to technologies that can capture electricity, store it as another form of energy, and then release it for use when it is needed, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Storage helps solar contribute to the electricity supply even when the sun isn’t shining.

The project incentives include fee-in-lieu of taxes as well as special-source revenue credits. The incentives are designed to reduce the property taxes the industry will have to pay.

Council also gave unanimous first reading by title only to an ordinance placing the project into a multicounty industrial park with Dorchester County.

• Council unanimously passed resolutions approving a fee-in-lieu agreement between three landowners and two solar farms.

The agreements were made with Orangeburg County Solar Project LLC and Supersod Real Property Holdings, LLC for a farm near Bowman and Homestead Road.

The agreement was also made with Orangeburg South Solar Project LLC and R & R Poultry Farms, Inc. and Myers Family Holdings LLC, also near Bowman on Vance Road.

• Orangeburg resident William Green requested council address individuals in the county who do not take care of their rental properties.

“I think you should be held accountable for what your renters are doing on your property,” Green said. “They are coming into our neighborhoods, trashing neighborhoods.”

“We have people bringing 18-wheelers,” Green continued. “I mean 18-wheeler trucks through neighborhoods on residential streets and they are not supposed to be there because streets are not built for that.

“That is what highways are built for. No one is holding these property owners accountable for what their renters are doing.”

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