Law enforcement, code enforcement, and community pride all topics at meeting
At Thursday night’s Buffalo community meeting, the residents were given a chance to speak out and give their thoughts on the proposed Buffalo Mill Pond revitalization project, possible Buffalo Mill site redevelopment, and other issues going on in their community. Regarding the improvements, several individuals expressed a desire that development have a direct benefit for those already living in Buffalo, and not just in attracting newcomers to the area.
The three major topics of concern for residents dealt with the need for law enforcement, code enforcement, and community pride. A mail carrier and resident of the Buffalo area said she has noticed people living in a tent near the pond in recent months. She noted traffic on several Buffalo streets day in and day out and said everyone in the community knows it’s because of drugs. She called for more law enforcement presence in the community. She also noted the town has a lot of rental properties that are in disrepair, so there is an increased need for code enforcement to make people take care of their properties. Supervisor Frank Hart said that as a whole, property maintenance is important, but people don’t like to be told what to do on their own property. He was supportive of zoning for places like mill villages where there are people and properties gathered more closely together, but that is something the community needs to decide they want. One person noted inconsistencies in code enforcement, where he can get multiple notices for cutting his grass but a neighbor with trash everywhere on the property isn’t getting those same notices. Hart said code enforcement operates on a complaint system right now, which isn’t completely fair, but he did note that anyone is free to make a complaint to code enforcement, and they will check it out.
Developer Brad Skelton with Red Oak Developers, who was part of the presentation on the redevelopment of the mill site area, said that in his experience in redeveloping mill sites, once people begin to see change and redevelopment of the area, flippers begin to come in to fix up some of the dilapidated housing, and other homeowners tend to begin to fix up their properties, as well. He noted one such project he was involved in was the Newry Mill near Lake Keowee. He called it one of the worst mill villages he had seen, in terms of how properties were being kept up. He said work at the site is around 80% complete, and already, nearly 60% of homes in the area have flipped, bringing increased property values and community pride. He said SC is the third-fastest growing state in the nation, and not everyone will be locating in the large cities. He said some go to smaller markets for the lower cost of living.
In directly addressing the proposed developments in the area, one resident asked for help in relocating the ducks and geese that flock to the pond and cause a nuisance to the area. Other residents agreed that was a problem. Another noted a need for a community building in that area to use for events, much like the old West Springs schoolhouse is for that community, and wondered if the old mill office building could be used for that purpose. One called for another community cleanup day to be held. Hart noted they tried that a couple of years. The first time, nearly 50 volunteers came out to help, but the second time saw only 4, which was discouraging.
After the meeting, WBCU News spoke to County Council member David Sinclair, who represents the Buffalo community, and this was his takeaway from the meeting:
(audio below story)