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Town of Lockhart Removes Voter Petition From Election Process

Daniel Prince

Council passes ordinances dealing with water and sewer connections

The Town of Lockhart is making it easier to run for mayor or town council. Lockhart’s Town Council voted 3-0, with Donnie Adams abstaining, to amend an existing ordinance to remove the requirement for those running for office to have to gather the signatures of 5% of voters. Lockhart is the only town that requires petitions right now. They passed first reading of a new ordinance that candidates will now have to fill out a Statement of Intention of Candidacy form at the town hall, and that form will be taken to the Voter Registration Office to be certified. The town’s next election will take place on March 7, 2023. Two council seats will be open at that time, currently held by Donnie Adams and Amanda Sweat.

In other news, Mayor Connie Porter presented a summary of the results of the feasibility study that KCI Technologies did of the town’s water and sewer systems. No action was taken by council on it, though the mayor and council members did not appear to be in favor of giving up control of their water and sewer systems.

The council voted unanimously to adopt second readings of two ordinances dealing with water and sewer. The first stated that anyone putting in a new water or sewer line at their residence must hire a licensed contractor to do the work of installing it and connecting the pipes to the main line, and that contractor will bill the resident directly for the work and must bring the area back up to code. The second ordinance stated that if a water meter is already in place and they only have to connect the line to the water system, a fee of $150 will be charged, but if the job requires a plumber, the work will be done and the plumber will bill the customer directly for the charges. Similarly, existing sewer lines can be connected at no charge, but if the job requires a plumber or contractor, they would bill the customer directly for the work. The town would be responsible for repairing lines but not replacing them. The ordinances codify the existing contracts that the town already has in place for customers.

Porter said the need for the ordinances came about because of a situation within the town where someone wanted to replace their water and sewer lines and connect them to the main lines. They hired an unlicensed contractor who did not run the lines correctly to be able to tap into the main lines, and the resident refused to pay the contractor for the work, instead saying the town was responsible. After checking with every other municipality, as well as looking at the ordinances and contracts already in place, the mayor said the town is not responsible for connecting new lines from residences to the main water and sewer lines. Mayor Porter said that years ago, the town received a grant for some residences to have their lines replaced and connected to the main line, but that was a special circumstance involving grant money and did not set a precedent. She said the property in question was fenced in and chained up to the point they cannot even check the water meter. In addition, the lines the contractor put in have been removed, and water and sewage are flowing through a ditch from the house into the back alley. Porter stated DHEC has gotten involved, as well.

Council member-elect Danny Bright brought information on the county’s proposed land development regulations. The ordinance passed first reading in title only at County Council’s November meeting. The ordinance will not affect the Town of Lockhart, as it is only for unincorporated areas of the county. Bright noted that the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, December 6, at 4:30 p.m. at Main Street Junction, and County Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, December 13, at 5:10 p.m. prior to their December meeting, where third and final reading of the ordinance is expected to be entertained. Second reading is expected at the special called meeting this coming Tuesday, November 29.

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