Georgetown County has made a deal that will allow public access to Bluff Road in Lamberttown for the next seven years.
The road, which leads to a boat landing at Boone’s Bluff on Wadmacon Creek, was part of a parcel of land that was sold to Ed Bell and Glover Real Estate LLC several years ago.
The boat landing is not county-owned, but was leased previously from MeadWestvaco.
Although the county had been maintaining the road as a public road, after the sale there were rumors that the new owners were going to close it.
At a public meeting in Lamberttown in August 2010, County Administrator Sel Hemingway told residents: “The county took the position that it is a public road and that we would challenge it as necessary.”
Lamberttown residents were hoping the county would buy the land the road is on, but Hemingway said this week that was not an option.
“The owner was not willing to sell so we didn’t have the option to buy,” Hemingway said. “We would have had two choices. We would have either had to take an action to condemn the property and go through that legal process, which would have been extremely costly to the county, or agree with the owner to enter into the lease, which was agreeable by both parties.”
The county paid $10 up front – which is what was owed for the term of the agreement – and the lease runs until Dec. 31, 2019.
“It is our intent to preserve the use of that facility and seven years from now, it will be our intent to preserve that use again,” Hemingway said. “Hopefully they can demonstrate during this seven-year window that the county is good stewards of the property and the citizens take care of the property and are aware that it is private property.”
But the lease agreement has not soothed all residents.
“At the end of the seven years if Bell don’t want to renew the lease we’re done for,” said William Lambert. “That road will be closed forever.”
Hemingway said the county does not want to see that happen.
“It’s extremely important to have river access throughout the county and that’s one of the few access points to the Santee River that we have,” Hemingway said. “It’s a valuable asset for the folks in that area as well as areas outside the immediate that use that facility.”
There will be a meeting to discuss Bluff Road on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at the community center in Lamberttown. Hemingway is scheduled to attend.
By Chris Sokoloski
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