HardiPlank debate sparks allegations
GEORGETOWN, SC —
Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville says City Council member Peggy Wayne was in “gross violation” when she agreed to give an affidavit on behalf of a couple who have filed legal action against the city.
Jean and Steve Rothrock, as reported in the May 4 Georgetown Times, have twice been denied permission by the city’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) to place HardiPlank siding on their home at 116 Cannon Street.
After the ARB denied the request in 2008, the Rothrocks appealed the decision in Circuit Court which has sided with the ARB on two occasions, Scoville said. The matter is now pending a hearing by the S.C. Board of Appeals.
In a sworn affidavit given by Wayne on behalf of the Rothrocks, it is alleged Scoville made predictions about the
outcome of the request.
Wayne, in the affidavit given at the request of the Rothrock’s attorney Doug Thornton in October 2010, said while at a city council meeting when HardiPlank was being discussed, Scoville — a councilman at the time — leaned over to Council member Paige Sawyer and said “when is that [expletive] going to figure out that he’s not going to get HardiPlank on that house?”
Scoville said Tuesday he “categorically denies ever making such a statement.”
Sawyer was also asked about the allegation Tuesday.
“I do not remember him ever making a statement like that,” Sawyer said.
In the affidavit Wayne also says she has heard Sawyer say at least three ARB members would resign if HardiPlank was allowed on the Rothrock home.
Sawyer said he could not comment on that allegation because any discussion of that nature would have taken place in executive session.
Wayne said she came to realize “various members” of the ARB and city council “simply do not like” the Rothrocks, Wayne said in the affidavit, adding she feels “this is the primary, if not only, reason the application was denied.”
Scoville said Wayne’s decision to give a voluntary statement to Thornton “is a gross violation of her fiduciary duties to the taxpayers of Georgetown.”
He said the reason it should not have been done is because by giving the affidavit, Wayne is “giving assistance to someone who wants to collect damages from the city.”
Wayne said Tuesday she was asked questions by Thornton and answered them truthfully.
“If someone walks in my shop and asks me questions, I will answer them the best I can. That is what I am elected to do. And I answer truthfully,” she said.
The second time the Rothrocks took their request before the ARB was last week, May 2.
At that meeting, the ARB voted 3-3 on the request, which means that the proposal didn’t pass.
Rothrock alleges the board had made up its mind to not pass the request because members asked for a police officer to be on hand for that portion of the meeting, something Police Chief Paul Gardner said had not happened since he has been in Georgetown.
Scoville, however, said he felt ARB Chairwoman Jan Lane was justified in asking for security because of prior incidents.
He said Lane and ARB member Nancy Gilman “are uncomfortable” around Rothrock.
“He is a very excitable person. He paces around the room and leans over the table where they are sitting,” Scoville said.
He also noted after the request was denied in 2008, there was an incident on Cannon Street in which Rothrock was very angry.
Scoville said he was called to that location. When he arrived several people, including other city officials, Hal Strange — Rothrock’s attorney at the time — and Peggy Wayne were on the scene.
“He was enraged. He was screaming and cursing, saying he was going to sue (former ARB chairman) Joe Cave and the city,” Scoville recalled. He was going totally berserk. I thought he was going to start hitting people.”
Scoville also noted Rothrock parked a large motor home on the street directly in front of Cave’s home after the 2008 request denial.
Scoville said this was considered to be a form of harassment by Rothrock.
According to a police report, the vehicle remained parked at that location until January, 2010 when Rothrock met with Gardner and agreed to have it removed.
On Tuesday, Rothrock denied acting as described by Scoville. He said any other comments needed to come from Strange, who was out of the office at a conference and unreachable.
By Scott Harper
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