Revised Sumter jail contract expands sheriff's authority

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 7/13/18

Sumter County Council approved third and final reading of a revised contract between Sumter and Lee counties regarding Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center and gave second reading to permit feather flags on commercial property at its meeting on …

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Revised Sumter jail contract expands sheriff's authority

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Sumter County Council approved third and final reading of a revised contract between Sumter and Lee counties regarding Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center and gave second reading to permit feather flags on commercial property at its meeting on Tuesday.

Revised jail contract gives Sumter County sheriff more authority

Reading: Third and final

What it is: An ordinance to revise the contract between Sumter and Lee counties regarding the operation and funding of Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center.

Background: Sumter County Council granted Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis the authority to manage the jail in September after the resignation of the previous detention center director a few months earlier.

According to the revised contract, the Sumter County sheriff will have the sole authority to appoint and terminate the employment of the director of the detention center.

Other changes include Lee County's contribution to the jail's operating budget, which will be based on the average percentage of Lee County detainees housed at the detention center during the previous five fiscal years, beginning July 1.

Lee County will also contribute 10 percent of all costs for any capital projects, including the expansion and renovation of the existing detention center and the construction of a new one.

This revised contract will be in effect for 30 years with the option for an additional 30-year renewal.

Discussion: None.

Vote: Approved - Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney abstained because her husband is an employee of the detention center, and Councilman Charles Edens was absent.

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Temporary fluttering devices takes step forward

Reading: Second of three with a public hearing

What it is: Sumter County Council is requesting that portions of the county's development standards ordinance regarding signs be amended to permit fluttering devices including feather flags.

Background: If approved, the amendment would make feather flags, which are currently prohibited in the county, a conditional use in all commercial districts and agricultural conservation districts.

The size of the flags would be limited to a maximum height of 12 feet, a maximum width of 3 feet and a maximum sign area of 36 square feet, according to a report from the Sumter City-County Planning Department.

Properties with 50 linear feet of frontage would be permitted to have two flags, with 50-100 feet of linear frontage would be allowed three flags and with more than 100 feet of linear frontage could have four flags, the maximum for any size property.

For multi-tenant properties, each business would be entitled to display feather flags as long as the number of flags do not exceed those frontage limits, states the report.

As a conditional use, businesses would be limited to no more than three 30-day periods each year to display feather flags. A $25 temporary sign/conditional use permit would be required so the planning department can keep track of how long the signs have been displayed.

The nine-member planning commission voted to recommend denial of the request in a 3-2 vote that included two abstentions during its April 25 meeting because they said the existing sign ordinance is reasonable for business owners.

Discussion: During the public hearing, Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Chris Hardy, speaking on behalf of the group's board of directors, said the group understands the need for small businesses to adequately promote their services but that there is also an obligation to the perception of the community especially with the increasing economic development and tourism in Sumter.

McGregor said the zoning administrator, an employee of the planning department, will be in charge of supervising the use and conditions of the flags and enforcing the regulations concerning those issues.

Nelle Thomlinson, a representative of the Building Industry Association of Sumter and Clarendon counties, asked if the amendments would also apply to open houses for model homes in residential districts.

McGregor said as drafted, the amendments do not apply to signs associated with residential properties and that research is required to determine how to allow feather flags just for model homes and not for individual open houses.

Vote: 5-1 approval - Councilman Gene Baten voted in opposition, and Councilman Charles Edens absent.