Orangeburg Flooding (copy)

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The City of Orangeburg has received a $300,000 grant to study stormwater issues. The study will focus on the areas around Railroad Corner, Magnolia Street, John C. Calhoun Drive and the warehouse district of Broughton Street. Some city council members would like to see other areas studied, too, like Stonewall Jackson Boulevard, pictured here in 2018.

The City of Orangeburg has received a $300,000 grant to study stormwater drainage.

The study will focus on reducing flood risks and environmental issues.

“If we ever get a heavy rain around here lately, there is a lot of local flooding that occurs,” City Administrator Sidney Evering told City Council during its Tuesday meeting.

He noted the study will aim to determine the cause of the flooding.

“Hopefully this will be the first step that we could use to mitigate flooding in the future,” he said.

The study will focus on areas around Railroad Corner, Magnolia Street, John C. Calhoun Drive and the warehouse district of Broughton Street. The warehouse district is the far eastern portion of Broughton Street, closer to U.S. Highway 21.

The grant is from the S.C. Office of Resilience. It’s offered through the Community Development Block Grant Mitigation program and needs to be specifically used in areas classified as low- to moderate-income.

The study is expected to be completed within the next nine months.

Council members Sandra Knotts and Jerry Hannah requested the study look at other areas of the city, such as Stonewall Jackson Boulevard and Glover Street, as well as Azalea Street, the corner of Ellis Avenue and Boulevard Street and under the bridge on Chestnut Street.

Evering said he will ask about those other areas.

Assistant City Administrator John Singh said the funds need to be targeted for low- to moderate-income areas and the city would have to pay to study additional areas.

“There are large swaths of the city that flood when we have a heavy rain,” Evering said. “Obviously, there is something going on with the stormwater drainage in the city. That is why we have the study.”

SCOR will administer the study, with the city providing technical support. City officials are hoping the results of the project will be used as a foundation for future grants.

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In other matters:

• Council voted 6 to 1 in favor of first reading approval for an ordinance amending the city’s business license ordinance.

The amendment is designed to bring the city into compliance with the new S.C. Business License Tax Standardization Act.

The primary purpose of the new law is to make the business license process uniform throughout the state. The new state law will go into effect in January 2022.

City officials noted in August that while the city did not budget a business license increase, the state law will cause some rates to increase and some to decrease. They say the goal is revenue neutrality.

Councilman Bernard Haire voted against ordinance, citing concerns about the city giving up home rule.

Haire also had a number of questions about the law’s penalties and whether other states have similar laws in place.

Both attorney Lawrence Flynn and Singh said other states have similar laws and that the city has no choice in the matter, since it is a state mandate.

Hannah asked how the law will be enforced and how it will impact smaller business vendors who come into the city for a day or two.

Singh said he also has questions about smaller vendors, noting it appears those types of vendors will see about a $15 increase – from $25 to $40 – a day to operate.

“We are going to look at that,” Singh said.

He said the law will be enforced as it is now through the city’s code enforcement office.

A public hearing on the matter will be held at the Nov. 16 council meeting.

• Council recognized November’s community of character trait of empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

• Council entered into closed session to discuss a legal matter related to a Department of Public Utilities wastewater claim, a contractual matter related to DPU’s electric power supply contract and a personnel matter related to the city’s finance department.

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