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Commentary: Council's binding resolution

Can the City of Abbeville be held liable for giving the South Carolina Department of Revenue false information?

We are not saying the City did give the South Carolina Revenue Department mistaken information, but the City did take the word of a development company and passed a binding resolution on their statements to Council without the City of Abbeville doing their own due diligence.

Abbeville City Council passed a binding resolution stating that the land situated on the corner of Chestnut and Washington Streets in Abbeville was previously occupied and used in the production of textile manufacturing. We know the land was occupied by a warehouse which stored cotton for cotton mills, but at no time was the land used for a finished product made of cotton. The land was never owned or used as a textile manufacturing cotton mill.

Nobody on City Council wants to talk about it, and maybe they are in the dark as to what they did.

It is our understanding that the investors wishing to build apartments on the aforementioned land found an attorney who stated to City Council in writing that if City Council passed a binding resolution citing the old warehouse on the property was once a “Cotton Mill” or used for textile manufacturing that the new apartment complex would qualify for Textile Tax Credit.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue would have no reason to back check the City of Abbeville’s binding resolution. The SCDOR would assume the City did their own due diligence.

Did the City of Abbeville do anything to verify the statement from the developers’ attorney or did City Council use the developers’ information to draw up and write the “Binding Resolution” stating the property was once used for textile manufacturing?

We know the property was a warehouse because The Press and Banner once stored newsprint in the facility. We never once noticed any manufacturing taking place. If the property was ever used for textile manufacturing, the South Carolina Department of Revenue should have a record of manufacturing taxes (10.5%) being paid on the property.

Abbeville City Council voted not to take the recommendation of their duly appointed Zoning Board and with no discussion in “open session” during a council meeting, they voted 100% to rezone the property to allow the apartments to be built. Then, to save the developers’ tax money, City Council passed a binding resolution stating the property was once textile manufacturing property. Of course, we do not know what went on in Executive (closed door) Session as the meeting was conducted under the guise of contractual information.

Rezoning discussion should not be a contract with a developer. It should be a discussion of information among the people living in and around the rezoned area and between all the people of the City of Abbeville. If City Council can rezone when and wherever they desire behind closed doors, buyer beware!

Ask your City Council person how they voted and why.

The only answer we have heard is the property was an eyesore and had not been developed over the past 15 to 20 years and that this is an opportunity for development.

If property had been rezoned for “like development,” this would have been understandable. The property would have made a nice little retirement community or young family community with several patio homes, adding to the value of Chestnut Street and the quality of its inhabitants.

We believe Abbeville City Council has made a mistake in NOT requesting informative “thoughts” from people living in the area, NOT listening to their own zoning board and in NOT considering the future of the City of Abbeville and its popular downtown area.

We do hope we are mistaken, and our City Council knows something we don’t. We hope they have been able to discuss it “somehow” and they have arrived at the best decision.

We also hope giving false information to South Carolina State Department of Revenue does not come back to “bite” us.

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