Boundary line agreements on Lake Greenwood kicked off an administration and finance committee meeting of Greenwood County Council on Tuesday afternoon that lasted more than three hours in open session followed by a much shorter executive session.
Council member Steve Brown raised questions recently about the process the county uses in boundary line agreements on Lake Greenwood. He specifically questioned the methodology used for valuation of property at the lake and the county covering some of the costs associated with the agreements.
Larry Smith, Greenwood County engineer, gave a presentation to council concerning boundary line agreements and the process involved in reaching an agreement with a property owner. The agreements are typically requested by a property owner to resolve any issues that may exist with boundary lines around the lake and the property owner generally only covers the cost for the surveying of the property.
The problems stem from the fact that the surveying techniques used when the county purchased the land in the mid-1930s so that the lake could be created. At the time, surveying accuracy was to within about 10 feet, according to Smith. In comparison, today’s standards are less than a foot.
Brown and council chairman Mark Allison both questioned the fact that the county pays attorney fees for the new deeds.
“I don’t agree with the county paying the legal fees,” Allison said following Tuesday’s meeting. “All the citizens of the county pay the fees, but the property owner is the one who benefits.”
Smith’s presentation is only the beginning of what appears to be a highly contentious issue. Allison said he believed the county policy of the agreements has hurt the real estate market on Lake Greenwood. Smith contended that much of that was due to rampant misinformation.
“I’m sure there will be a lot more conversation about this issue,” Allison said. “I’m not sure where we go from here after all these years of doing things the way they have been done.”
In other business, Brown proposed a change to a county ordinance that would allow citizens to speak briefly at the beginning of council meetings about any item on the agenda without having to make a formal request beforehand. Members of council generally agreed that the change would be good.
Council also discussed the format for their administration and finance committee meetings. Some members of council, including Allison and Brown, felt recent changes in South Carolina law that prohibit public bodies from amending their agendas during a meeting left council members no opportunity to bring issues before council. Stephen Baggett, the acting county attorney, said he would provide council some guidance on different options for a meeting format. Brown said he was in favor a work session format which has very little structure while other members, such as Gonza Bryant, said they felt the structure kept the meetings focused and on task.
The executive session, or closed-door session, centered around a letter from Baggett to former county attorney Chuck Watson asking for the location of documents that Watson has reportedly said exist, but county staff has been unable to locate.