BY SHELBIE GOULDING
The proposal from John Richard, the authorized agent and business operator, had its first reading before Sumter City Council. He applied to rezone the 3.27-acre property at 410 S. Main St. It is currently zoned light industrial-warehouse.
Richard said he wants to bring the cannabis industry to the City of Sumter and work with its local farmers. He said he walked door-to-door to talk with residents in the area about his business and had a petition for them to sign approving his rezoning.
The planning commission recommended approval of the request.
Councilwoman Ione Dwyer said the business depreciates residents’ property value and that the community doesn’t want the business in their back yard.
Dwyer also said she isn’t against the business itself but that it doesn’t need to be in the location. She said something of better use to the community could be built there.
Councilman Calvin Hastie, who represents much of South Sumter, said area residents don’t want the business in their neighborhood.
During a public hearing, five spoke in favor of the rezoning, and six spoke in opposition. Only city residents are allowed to speak during public hearings.
Richard’s father, Marius Richard, spoke in favor and said it’s an opportunity to improve and clean up the area.
Other businessmen spoke in favor of the manufacturer bringing spurring more business and economic growth to the city.
A woman wearing a yellow T-shirt that said South Sumter Neighborhood Beautification Association Inc. spoke for her fellow residents also wearing the T-shirts.
She said the community doesn’t want a manufacturer being placed in the area. It could go outside the city or outside of South Sumter.
“We live here, and we’re interested in our community,” she said. “I’m determined. They aren’t going to take my street.”
Hastie told the woman and those in opposition of the rezoning that forming a neighborhood association and coming together in unity will help resolve issues that affect their community, such as this rezoning.
“Let these people know we are fighting back,” Dwyer said. “The only way to do this is to do it together.”
Council deferred the rezoning to have extra time to discuss the request. The city requires two readings to be approved for a rezoning request to get passed.
Mayor Joe McElveen and Councilman Steven Corley were absent for the meeting.
Request made to bring tailor shop to Oxford Street
A public hearing and first reading was held for a potential garment alteration and tailor shop on Oxford Street for applicant Hugh Betchman Jr.
One city resident spoke in favor and said he’s “always in favor of a tailor shop.”
The request is to amend the professional office district to add garment alteration and repair shops and tailor shops, except custom or merchant tailors, as allowed uses.
Council unanimously approved first reading.
City to match grant for program to attract first-time visitors
A resolution requesting a local match from the City of Sumter of at least $3,750, which equals the minimum 15% local match required by the Municipal Association of South Carolina, to support the city’s application for a $25,000 Hometown Economic Development Grant was made.
The grant and funding will be used for the City of Sumter’s Wayfinding Signage Trailblazer program, which is an important key to increase the traffic of first-time visitors in Sumter.
Hastie said this would be a great asset to the community, especially in the South Sumter area.
Council unanimously approved to commit to the grant.
Sewer right of way project approved
A resolution authorized a contract with V.B. Hawthorne and Son for $141,251.96 for the Sanitary Sewer Right-of-Way Clearing Project for this fall.
V.B. Hawthorne was the second lowest bid and was recommended for approval as the local bidder was only 3% higher than Tom Brigman Contractors Inc. and agreed to match the low bid of $141,251.96.
Council unanimously approved the contract.