Growing outcry against proposed LMO in Edgefield County

CSRA News

Edgefield County, SC (WJBF)- In South Carolina, every ten years a county must rewrite its Comprehensive Plan. For Edgefield County, that came in 2019.

From that rewrite, the Land Management Ordinance, or LMO, was born; but those opposed say it’s a government over reach to give the county more power over private property.

Rhonda Nowicki is a property owner in Edgefield County. She said most people she has talked to are not happy abut the LMO.

“The people don’t want zoning is the big issue.”

Nowicki has lived in Edgefield county for 21 years and loves the rural life. She said the County Council isn’t being honest about what zoning means.

“What they’ll say is, that zoning is there to protect you. We need zoning to keep out the high density. What they won’t tell you is that if they zone they cannot keep out the highest density that comes which is the planned developments,” said Nowicki.

Scott Cooper is the Chairman of the Edgefield County Council. He told NewsChannel 6 the LMO is needed to provide zoning, which he said will help to control over development in the county. He said he believes it will protect the rural residents of the county.

“There’s gray areas that we want to identify as industrial. There’s areas that we want to identify for small business growth. The vast majority of our 504 square miles will remain, probably the most lenient type of zoning which is rural agricultural,” Cooper said.

Nowicki thinks the document that was released to the public at the beginning of the year is too difficult for most people to understand.

“It was kind of like a haystack where they threw in a bunch of needles and then they handed it to the citizens in February and asked us to find the needles. It’s 376 pages. We’re not attorneys. We can’t find the needles,” she explained.

Hart Clark is the Building and Planning Director for Edgefield County. He said the current draft of the LMO is just a starting point for the planning commission.

“We’re at the first draft. And it will change between now and when the planning commission is done with it,” Clark said. “And then the planning commission will make their recommendation to the county council on what they think it should be. And then county council has to look at that draft and modify it further to be what they desire.”

Nowicki questioned why the draft was released so early and says she isn’t convinced much will change.

Clark said it’s because the county wanted transparency.

“We need more involvement. And I don’t think it’s ever too early to get the public’s input on it,” explained Clark.

Nowicki said those who oppose the LMO know it’s just a rough draft, but they don’t want it at all.

“I think our voice needs to grow. I think the citizen voice needs to continue to grow. I think we need to continue to push and we need to continue to write, not only our county council, but the planning commission and tell them we are opposed to the LMO. We want it to stop.”

According to Clark, the Planning Commission is still working on modifying the LMO and that it could be months before the next draft is complete.

UPDATE: We originally wrote that Rhonda Nowicki had lived in Edgefield County for 35 years. That is incorrect. It was 21 years. The article has been corrected.

Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins.

Full Interview with Scott Cooper. (Internet connection went down and interview was ended then.)

Full Interview with Rhonda Nowicki.

Full interview with Hart Clark.

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