Board OKs latest conservation district

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors approved the application by multiple individuals and farms to create a Voluntary Agriculture and Forestal District. The territory is bordered by Plank Road (Route 35) to the west; Flaggy Run Road (Route 611) and Country Club Road (Route 649) to the south; Harris Road (Route 637) to the east; and Vicksville Road (Route 645) to the north. This contains approximately 9,013 acres and lies within the Capron, Franklin and Jerusalem voting districts.

Beth Lewis, secretary to the Planning Commission, said this application is by far the largest, containing 103 parcels and abutting 327 property owners.

The district is valid for 10 years.

Only Ash Cutchin of Courtland commented on this public hearing, and suggested that a fee should be considered for future applications.

Related to the Planning, the board later approved Michael Mann and Jack Randall to continue serving on the commission, which both had offered to do.

However, with Oliver Parker’s resignation, the supervisors need to find a replacement. Supervisors’ chairman Dallas Jones asked Vice Chairman Ronnie West and Supervisor Carl Faison to head a nominating committee; Faison will also fill in for Parker through the end of April. Board members are asked to submit names by the next meeting.

Also that night, the controversy about Supervisor Dr. Alan Edwards’ dismissal from Planning in January came to something of a head. He was replaced then by fellow Supervisor Bruce Phillips in a move that shocked many residents, not the least of whom was Edwards.

Early in the meeting, Supervisor Barry Porter read a statement chastising unnamed residents who had been vocally and, in his view, hypercritical of that decision.

“How can you be so callous to the people who serve so diligently? You also have some responsibility to express in a somewhat civil discourse,” said Porter.

He said that Edwards was let go not “as some seem convinced that this board has some nefarious plans. He was dismissed not because he’s a bad person. He was not doing the job he was supposed to be doing as liaison on planning. That’s why I believe the rest of the board followed. Based on feedback from Planning, Mr. Phillips has provided more perspective.”

“I stand by every decision,” added Porter. “Choose your heroes wisely. They are a reflection of who you are. I am proud to serve alongside them (the supervisors.”)

The issue came up again on the later discussion of the code of ethics. Porter said that Edwards had violated a couple of the points with his public statements, and would bring charges against him if that was repeated.

“If the shoe fits,” Edwards replied.

West also chided the doctor for past blasphemous talk, calling it offensive.

“We don’t always want to be fighting you. The comments you’ve made are not helping that process,” Porter continued. “Please join us. Will you do that? We look forward to working with you.”

All members agree to sign the code.


During citizens comment time, Jason Fowler of Courtland asked the board to have a public hearing on shared services of water and sewer with the City of Franklin.

Joe Vick reminded people about Down Home Day in Courtland, which takes place on Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

He added that in regard to Dr. Edwards, the board needs to work on its communication skills.

County Administrator Mike Johnson outlined a proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget, and the public also had an opportunity to give input for the draft. A second hearing is scheduled for Monday, May 21, to give residents an opportunity to comment on the final draft.

In addition to the hearings, work sessions are scheduled for Wednesdays on April 11, 18. The matter will come up at the meeting on Monday, April 23. Adoption is scheduled for Monday, May 29.

Johnson said that when it comes to whatever federal funds are received, that money by law goes strictly for education or the school food program. State funds are also specifically earmarked as well for schools. Only the non-categorical portion — $230K — can be directed by the board.

Cutchin was again the only person to speak on the budget, noting that the county is paying 20 percent for debt service.

Speaking of money, the supervisors all approved contributing $1,000 to the Remote Area Medical Corps, which will provide free health, dental and eye care on June 23-24 in Greenville County High School. Jean Blackburn of Social Services, who volunteered last year, said that 705 patients were treated last year.