City looks to address holes in its borders | News | The Press and Standard

by | February 26, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: February 24, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Walterboro officials want to close the doughnut holes.
Planning-wise, doughnut holes are the areas surrounded by the city, but not inside the city which do not receive city services.
There are nearly a dozen doughnut holes within Walterboro’s borders, the most recognizable one at 1310 N. Jefferies Blvd. The former Asten-Johnson manufacturing facility — situated on a nine-acre parcel of land with buildings measuring a total of 240,000 square feet — is part of Colleton County, not the city.
The city’s doughnut holes run the gamut of uses: industrial, commercial and residential, City Manager Jeff Molinari said. They are usually located on the edges of the city’s borders.
Closing those holes by annexing the properties into the city is one of city council’s priority items for 2016.
Molinari, during city council’s Feb. 9 meeting, said, “From a service delivery standpoint, it can cause confusion.”
There have been times that the city’s police or fire department have been called to an incident and then found out that the area is not inside the city. “It is incredibly confusing,” he said.
He pointed out that “South Carolina is a very strong property rights state,” and state law does not provide cities a way “to unilaterally bring areas surrounded by a municipality into that city.”
To accomplish that goal, the areas would have to go through the normal annexation process, which requires the property owners to be in support of the move.
“It is challenging on many fronts,” Molinari said.
To get the property owners interested in annexing into the city, he added, “We have talked about putting together information for the different enclaves, the doughnut holes that we target, to explain to the property owners what the benefits of coming into the city are and what the cost implications would be.”
Molinari said the city officials have not talked with county officials about closing the holes as yet. “I would think it would be a win-win,” he said.
Closing the gaps, Molinari said, “is the most immediate need.”
He said the city is not currently looking to expand its borders but would consider that “if the opportunity presents itself.”
“We also talked a lot about body cameras,” Molinari said. “The police chief has been working on this for some time.”
The department has been testing a variety of different systems and Molinari said Police Chief Wade Marvin is expected to come to council in the next couple of months with a recommendation on best course of action.

By GEORGE SALSBERRY
gsalsberry@lowcountry.com

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