Citizens express concerns over ordinance

Citizens of Bamberg living in the historic district expressed the desire to remain in control of decisions such as paint colors, roofing materials, and any other choices that an American citizen would expect to make regarding individual property rights at Monday night’s meeting.

Jamie Brabham, a historic home owner in Bamberg, explained her position to Council during the open hearing: “What if a tree fell on my roof, and it was a necessary thing to get this resolved quickly…?” City Clerk Bruce Watson explained that the proposed Architectural Review Board would need to be consulted and a certificate of appropriateness applied for before any repairs could be made.

Brabham also commented on the implementation of ordinances already in place to keep property owners responsible in management of their properties, and expressed concern that Bamberg is a small community and would be better served if planning involved ideas from other small communities, as opposed to comparisons with larger cities like Charleston and Columbia.

A special Bamberg City Council meeting held Monday, January 4th resulted in the proposed revised Zoning Ordinance being edited to remove the clause that would institute an Architectural Review Board to oversee any changes to the properties included in a proposed historic overlay district.

Ordinance 09-5 to adopt the revised Comprehensive Plan passed the first reading as written.

Ordinance 09-6 to adopt the revised Zoning Ordinance passed the first reading with the proposed historic overlay district removed.

The meeting began with a public hearing to address concerns regarding the Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Bamberg and the Revised Zoning Ordinance. An earlier meeting November 2, 2009 brought many of the same responses from homeowners regarding the potential loss of individual property owner rights concerning decision making for their privately-owned historic properties.

Citizen comments included concerns of City government and proposed Architectural Review Board appointees overstepping their boundaries. Historic homeowner Sandy Albertson spoke to Council at the November and January meetings. “I just have a lot of difficulty with any type of board that wants to take the rights away from property owners…we as citizens have paid for our properties…I feel like it’s overstepping the boundaries …”

Councilperson Ella Bamberg commented that she understood the concerns of homeowners present, as she is a historical homeowner as well.

Councilperson Janeth Walker stated that after hearing the public comments expressing many valid points, she agreed with removing the historic district overlay clause.

Councilperson Nancy Foster made the necessary motion to remove the overlay district clause from the Zoning Ordinance and Council agreed to vote on the first reading as suggested by Foster.

This is not necessarily the end of the proposed historic overlay district or the Architectural Review Board.

“This [Zoning Ordinance] is a living breathing document, it can be revisited at any time…it can always be amended…” explained Clerk Watson.

Both Ordinances may be passed on second reading as early as the Monday, January 11th regularly scheduled City Council Meeting.