Thursday, July 3, 2014
Dorchester County Council approved spending about $247,000 from the County Stormwater Fee Fund Balance to buy a half-acre parcel in the Trotters Ridge subdivision from Tom and Evyonne Thurman.
Council made the decision during a special called meeting Monday, June 30. Council voted 4-1-2 on a motion made by Councilman David Chinnis and seconded by Councilman George Bailey. Councilmen Jay Byars, Chinnis, Larry Hargett, and Chairman Bill Hearn voted in favor, Councilwoman Carroll Duncan voting against, and Councilmen George Bailey and Willie Davis abstained from the vote.
The motion calls for the county to purchase the property for the sum of $247,000 — the appraised value of the property — together with usual and customary closing costs. It also included a caveat that the deal is contingent on the Thurmans executing at closing a release and covenant not to sue Dorchester County.
The decision, say councilmembers, was not an easy one to make; however, it seemed to be the most expedient and least expensive way to handle a situation the present county council has inherited. The problem, which goes back a number of years, is chronic flooding in the Trotters Ridge neighborhood, located off Butternut Road adjacent to the Pine Forest subdivision.
Periodically, whenever the area experiences a heavy rain, several properties along Trotters Club Way flood. Over the years the county has made some improvements in the area, most notably to the sewer system to help prevent sewage overflow that sometimes occurred during flooding events.
The Thurmans’ property, which is located at the base of a cul-de-sac, backs up to Rumphs Hill Creek, which runs between the Trotters Ridge and Pine Forest subdivisions. That property has experienced the most significant flooding problems, said county officials.
To conduct a study of Rumphs Hill Creek itself would cost at least half a million dollars and the county might or might not be able to address problems due to a variety of regulatory, jurisdictional, and other such issues, Hearn said. However, by purchasing the Thurman property, the county can directly address some of the drainage problems in the area by making some improvements to the property.
County Administrator Jason Ward said the plan is to remove the house from the property and return the property to a more natural state that will go a long way in alleviating the drainage issues.
“With the topography the way it is, water wants to be there, so we want to return the property to a state where it can handle that,” he said.
The county expects to close on the property within the next 30-60 days, said County Attorney John Frampton.
Council also voted to grant a contract to Susan Davis to serve as Delinquent Tax Collector for the county for the month of July.
Davis, who retired effective June 30, will continue in the position on this temporary contract until council can finish the appointment process, which is already underway. Council is currently reviewing applications for the position.