City Council approves second reading of ordinance

Bamberg City Council held a Public Hearing, and approved a Second Reading of Ordinance 09-1 to allow professional offices in the residential districts as special exceptions.

Councilmember's Bo Griffin, Ella Bamberg, Buzzy Bunch, Teresa Hannibal, and Nancy Foster voted in favor of the ordinance and councilmember Janeth Walker was opposed.

Chester Hightower stated that he had a petition signed by citizens “from all over the city that are against this.” Hightower said that his chief concerns are that making the building into a law office would invite criminals into the neighborhood, and reduce property values. I’ve got to speak out against turning this into an office complex or office building, this is a neighborhood, my neighborhood, I don’t feel like this is in our best interest,” Hightower said.

Gene Schwarting lll, whose construction company is doing the renovation on the building stated,” the house that is in question isn’t going to be a courthouse, or jail house, and there aren’t going to be criminals there. To come up here and put down attorneys isn’t fair, each of us has dealt with an attorney at some point, everyone that deals with an attorney isn’t a crook or criminal so that is unfair,” Schwarting said, adding “I’m for the best interest of Bamberg. It’s going to be 150 percent better.”

Robert Reeves, a resident of Second Street, said that when he and his wife moved to Bamberg two years ago the area was zoned residential, and he would like to see the area continue to be zoned as residential. “We bought the property as residential and we would like for it to stay residential, if you start breaking it up, it will be detrimental to the whole residential sector,” Reeves said.

Dan Luginbill, an attorney, who is looking to relocate his law office in the building he described as previously being an “absolute embarrassment” to the town, when the renovations are complete, stated that in a time of economic downturn he didn’t understand why some citizens wanted to shrink the number of potential buyers of the property. “That’s self-defeating, shortsighted, and certainly not in the best interest of the town,” Luginbill said.

Diane Heneger, who lives on Railroad Avenue, described “her vision” of what the community is like now and stated that those wanting to make changes hadn’t given “thoughtful consideration of the clientele” that would be coming into the area. “I don’t know why we would invite these people into our historical residential district,” Heneger said. “Why didn’t they try to sell it as a house, they’re trying to change the neighborhood, they’re trying to go through the back door,” she said.

Citing a tight city budget, Bamberg City Council is considering canceling its Annual TreasureFest this year, and only sponsoring the Annual Fourth of July Celebration held at the Ness Sports Complex instead.

“Since we are struggling with the budget-barely getting by, this could be a way we might could save some money. I’ve thought about this, and discussed it,” Mayor Alton McCollum told council members at their April 13 meeting. “Maybe we ought to go just on the 4th of July Celebration instead of both of them and save about $9,000,” McCollum said.

Mayor McCollum stated that it was thought moving the Antique TreasureFest to the sports complex from its original location on the old Railroad berm “was a good idea.”

“The TreasureFest was a flop last year,” Mayor-Pro Tem Councilmember Nancy Foster said, stating that she liked the idea proposed by the mayor, and she doubted if many of the vendors who didn’t “brake even” last year would be returning.

The mayor assigned a committee consisting of Council members; Teresa Hannibal, Bo Griffin, and Janeth Walker to bring back information to council on the proposed change.