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A Case for Changing SC's Annexation Laws


monsoon

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City ran water/sewer out there at the developers bequest. I'm not sure, but I thought Columbia had annexed a good part of it.

NE is what I'd like to see LR avoid becoming. I hate that area even worse than Harbison (becuase of the traffic).

What do you want to see it become then?

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I'd like to see it staying the way it is, but since change is eternal, more upscale energy efficient/cutting edge homes on acre plus lots that can support septic tanks and wells supplying water.

Ground coupled heat pumps, passive solar encouraged (by tax credits)for new developements.

I'd love LR to become an higher income, much lower density area than what is planned for the area now (thousands of 'starter homes).

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I'd like to see it staying the way it is, but since change is eternal, more upscale energy efficient/cutting edge homes on acre plus lots that can support septic tanks and wells supplying water.

Ground coupled heat pumps, passive solar encouraged (by tax credits)for new developements.

I'd love LR to become an higher income, much lower density area than what is planned for the area now (thousands of 'starter homes).

Wouldnt that be just energy efficient sprawl. Having low density developments close to the principal city isnt that great of an idea considering how much further that pushes other people out... maybe im wrong though..

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Lower density equals less congestion on the roads. With homes having wells and septic, there would be no need for the city to annex it. That's why a lot of people moved to LR in the first place.

I like higher density closer in towards the city. LR High School is 12 miles out from Columbia.

It does to a point. You can still have 1ac-2ac lots in a subdivision with septic and wells. This type of development is low density too, and is one of many reasons we have the traffic problems we have today. I think what you mean is extremely low density/rural type of development for LR. I am ok with that. But you have to be able to accomodate the growth in SE Columbia elsewhere. If the City and existing urban areas up Garner's Ferry maintain a higher density then it can more easily support transit which would reduce congestion on the roads... but that requires a decent transit system. Its all a chicken and egg phenomenon. One solution is that the people in Lower Richland could support an urban growth boundary of some sort so that their interests will be maintained and the city can build UP instead of OUT.

What do you think of the Lower Richland master plan?

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^ I think of the citizens of Ballentine want to incorporate, more power to them. They are obviously displeased with decisions they see being made and want to take control of their own destiny before someone seizes control of it from them. More power to them.

Annexation for Columbia and Irmo has de-volved into a blatant money grab. I really don't think the city officials care about the people, their wants, and their desires one bit.

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Well, I think the State had it right. If you look at my hometown of Chas, we have an incredible amount of cities and towns and parishes, and all they provide is duplications of services. The James Island incorporation is a primary example of this anti-city foolishness. The unincorporated areas of the barrier island (more than 1/2 of it is in the city of Chas) voted to incorporate just to keep the city from annexing more land. Their mentality for this vote was so they would have more "voice" in planning decisions. It didn't even occur to them that if they all were in the city, an additional councilman would be placed to represent them and they would have more voice. This is the 3rd time the rest of the island has tried to incorporate while providing only zoning services. It won't provide trash, police, or water/sewer...each of these services is provided by a different agency! The town is again being sued by the city of Chas, and hopefully the town will be dissolved again.

Do you see what this anti-city accomplishes? Nothing except redundant services directly, and bureaucratic confusion, financial strain, and community segregation indirectly. If SC annexation laws were changed, areas like James Island, Johns Island, Ballentine, NE Cola, and Taylors would already or mostly be in the primary city limits (Ballentine would probably be annexed by Irmo). Proper, comprehensive zoning would be fully coordinated, allowing for better planning.

Other cities such as Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Louisville, Denver, and even NYC consolidated their cities and counties into one primary city, and look how much they accomplish. Even Charlotte to some extent has a profound influence on its growth and planning. SC cities may not necessarily have to completely consolidate, but by allowing the primary cities to expand and grow, SC cities will be healthier and more relevant in the Southeastern economy.

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^

This sort of thing - duplication of services - will change in a serious, proactive fashion when there's some kind of disruptive meltdown - a ghastly corruption scandal breaking, or a municipal bankruptcy, or a suburban toy town having to be bailed out by a legislature.

Such suburban incorporations (turn a semi-rural or suburban area into a faux-town of some kind) are driven primarily through reaction, instead of actually thinking through the big-picture, long range implications of it IMO, and they are hardly limited to SC - look at the incorporated scramble of towns in W Union Co NC, or the ring of towns around Winston-Salem & Greensboro that didn't exist until recently (How exactly is Whitsett - which is about 3 roads - a town?).

But Captain Worley has a point - if municipal government behaves with contempt or ignorance towards those governed, then they are right to react in some way. It ultimately may be a race to the bottom - municipal decisions with questionable motives inspire reactions against them that may be equally ill-considered.

Not that I'd hold hope in seeing it any time soon, but I'm starting to think that a structural redefinition of what a "municipality" is might be is in order, in many states at least, if not nationally. Trying to sell annexation to suburbanites is tough, even when the city is effective in doing what it says it will, and urbanites don't always like it either - it can drastically change the political, social, cultural and racial demographics of a place. The cities in SC could take several approaches that ideally would be responsive at some level, and wouldn't just be a blatant money/population grab:

1-Continue the push to modify current annexation laws.

2-Pursue city/county consolidations, or reconstitution as some sort of independent city.

3-Look into the kind of merged municipalities (not the same things as #2), something like the system in Ontario. I haven't researched what they are doing, but it seems to have been designed to cut duplication of services and unneeded layers of or overlap in gov't by essentially turning urban areas into a semi-consolidated or federated municipality. Maybe an Ontario resident can correct me if I'm wrong on this.

4-Push to shift SC into some modernized township system, an update on something like the New England system, where counties are essentially just statistical/geographical entities, and remove a layer of interaction between "city" and "state." Counties would basically exist as census/statistical designations only.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Senator Jim Richie of Spartanburg has proposed two peices of legislation that would change the way SC cities can annex. It would make them more in line with North Carolina's annexation laws, which are based on density.

Here is the article in the Herald-Journal.

One bill would allow annexation based on a density of 2.3 people per acre- though this number woud likely increase after dabate. That 2.3 figure would effectively allow any subdivision or any moderately "dense" area to be annexed, but still sparing the countryside.

The other bill is a reintroduction of the bill to allow for annexation of donut holes, so that places like Charleston could more easily fill in the annexation gaps.

I hope we see something accomplished this year!

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I see Richie also wants to get the landowner requirement lowered from 75% to 60%. I will definitely write my local representatives to voice my support and I would encourage everyone else to do the same. I, too, hope to see some progress in this area this year. It's only fair, natural, and healthy that a municipality is allowed to capture the growth that it generates and I hope our state legislature comes to see this sooner rather than later.

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This whole annexation debate brings up a lot of questions?

1) Why on earth would the state want to stifle growth of cities due to density, particularly larger cities?

2) Why does it make it so easy for new cities to incorporate while leeching on other cities' or county services (law enforcement, waste, and sewer)

3) What (better yet, WHO IS TO THERE TO GAIN) is there to gain by maintain such screwed-up and ass-backwards laws in the state?

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Everybody thinks greenville, columbia, and charleston are just wanting to eat up everything but its important that they can annex. Spartanburg and anderson would benefit from it too along with countless other cities in south carolina. I can see Greer and Greenville battling it out for taylors now! oh brother......

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From the colonial days, Charleston (THE city) dominated politics under the Commons House of Assembly. Even when the capital was moved to Columbia, Charleston continued to dominate the political landscape. They had a disproportionate number of representatives... and because the General Assembly elected our governors up until the Civil War, guess who ran the state? Charleston. Here's a fun fact: all of SC's governors until 1812 were from Charleston. (Remember, at this time, Charleston is a major city at the national level, and dwarfed all other cities in the South.)

Now, as all of this was going on, the Upcountry (everything that wasn't Charleston- the city) was not happy about this arrangement. After the Civil War we went to a popular vote system for the governor and all of the General Assembly (house used to elect the senate)... and the Upcountry gained more power. Counties at that time had one senator each, regardless of population, and that made the senators very powerful figures. The rural folks, who had more population than Charleston fixed their problems... they made cities virtually useless and powerless. Perhaps inspite of Charleston, but that is just conjecture on my part. But from this point on, the rural nature of SC dominated politics, and still does to this day, though you can see signs of that changing.

Cities went against the rural lifestyle, so the General assembly made it difficult for them to expand without the concent of each individual property owner. It wasnt about the great good, it was about the idividual's rights. Remember that the idea of a suburb was unheard of back then, and our antiquated government system is not set up to handle modern issues like sprawl, which should be in the domain of the city, and not as much with the counties as it is today.

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