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Abbeville hires firm to look into creating land use regulations

Officials in Abbeville have decided to hire an urban planner to look into the possibility of the town developing zoning, planning and building code regulations during their regular meeting Thursday evening.

Wayne Haynie and Ken Hanks both abstained from voting.

Chris Watson, who recently developed a comprehensive plan for the town, will next work on regulations that will be presented to the public, according to Mayor Scott Fricker.

Fricker said feedback from a public hearing that was held a couple weeks ago was mixed among the residents who voiced their opinion.

“All in all there was interest,” Fricker said. “We have to hire him and let him do his thing. This is a long process, but this is where we have to start.”

Haynie was concerned with the fee Watson is charging the town. However, the fee has already been budgeted for this fiscal year.

According to the Dec. 3, 2015, minutes, the zoning charge would be $4,000, the subdivision regulations charge is $2,000 and the building codes regulation would cost the town $500.

Aldermen Ronnie Williams, Jerry Pope, Lynn Klepzig and Fricker all voted in favor of hiring Watson.

Fricker said Watson’s $6,500 total fee to develop the regulations will be paid in stages.

In other matters, Pope gave a financial update for the town. Through February, the town had an ending balance of $126,959 and estimates that amount will increase to as much as $133,000 by the end of March.

The biggest issue facing the town is the water system officials took over in July 2014. The aging north wellhouse, which officials deem a hazard, needs to be streamlined. They voted to spend money to do necessary electrical repairs. The cost to have the repairs done has not yet been determined.

“The problems we’ve had over the last couple of weeks, it doesn’t affect all of our customers, but it affects a few and some of them are quite vocal,” Klepzig said. “And I don’t think that we need our customers doubting our ability any more than they do because we’re hesitating to spend money to fix something that really needs fixing.”

“The system is 40 years old,” Pope said.

“I’m very uncomfortable spending money on this right now, but in my mind it is the lesser of the two evils,” Klepzig said.

Officials also voted in favor of a resolution to allow the release of advertising for bids to upgrade water lines using the $307,000 community development block grant.

Aldermen will meet again on March 17.