Lamberttown residents came out in large numbers for a community meeting Monday to discuss the leasing of Bluff Road to maintain public access.
Sel Hemingway, Georgetown County administrator, led the meeting.
“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 the area as well as areas outside that use that facility.”
The discussion at hand was the signing of a lease between Georgetown County and Stewart’s Neck Plantation, LLC, its successor and assigned landlord J. Edward Bell III.
The county took the position that the road that leads to a boat landing at Boone’s Bluff on Wadmacon Creek was part of a two-acre parcel of land that was sold to Bell and Glover Real Estate, LLC several years ago.
The boat landing is not county-owned, but was leased previously from Mead Westvaco.
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.
Lamberttown residents were hoping the county would buy the land that the road is on.
However, the county has signed a seven-year lease with J. Edward Bell.
The term of the lease will commence on August 14, 2012 and end on December 31, 2019.
Bell has not given the county the option to buy the land, which is appraised at $60,000.
Bell wanted a 10-year lease but the county agreed to a seven year lease.
“We did not give up any of our rights. We want to pursue a condemnation action, then we have that same right seven years from now,” added Hemingway, or it can be closed indefinitely.
Residents also discussed trash that’s being left on the road by people that have no connection with the community.
Hemingway told the residents that the county and the citizens of Lamberttown need to work together to keep the area clean.
The floor was opened for questions.
One resident commented, saying that he believe that this disagreement of the land will end up in court.
“We can offer him an offer that he can’t refuse, and then you won’t have to build another recreation area,” the resident said.
“He owns a lease from the edge of the ball field to the bluff.”
“Money might change his mind,” added another resident in the audience.
How do you foresee winning in seven years if we can’t win now?
Hemingway answered the question by saying, “The nature is weighing it out and at the end of the day you have not lost any of the rights.”
Before the close of the meeting County Council member Leona Miller of Andrews stated the best option is to try to get the road cleared off.
“That’s better than having it closed,” Miller said.
The county has already spent $25,000 in legal fees.
By Rounette Johnson
For The Times
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