A legislative panel will decide this week if residents should be able to vote on creating South Carolina’s two newest towns.
The communities of Rembert in Sumter County and Van Wyck in Lancaster County are petitioning the state to incorporate. Representatives from both communities will appear before the Joint Legislative Committee on Municipal Incorporation Thursday as part of their bid. If the committee signs off on the idea, then residents will vote on their future in a referendum.
“It’s so they can have some control over the destiny,” said Trent Kernodle, a Charleston attorney who is representing Rembert’s organizers. “As just another member of the county, they have some services supplied. And that’s good. But the chief thing that they want control over is zoning and planning. And without being a town, you’re sort of in a no-person’s land where you’re at the subject of everyone else in the county.”
South Carolina state law requires a lengthy approval process for towns to incorporate. Organizers must submit paperwork with the SC Secretary of State’s Office demonstrating how the new town would provide services to its residents, how it would raise the revenue to pay for those services, how many residents it expects to have and the signatures of at least 15 percent of residents who would live inside the town’s proposed borders, among other requirements.
Bill Taylor of the Municipal Association of South Carolina said the committee will question supporters of the towns to see if they have a plan to fund police, utilities and other services. “You’ve really got to think it through as far as the level of services you’re getting now, as opposed to what could be provided as an incorporated town,” he told South Carolina Radio Network.
Should the committee give its approval, residents inside the borders of the proposed towns would then vote in a referendum to decide on incorporation. A simple majority would be needed in the referendum to create the town.
Rembert is a small community roughly 15 miles northwest of Sumter, while Van Wyck is in the state’s northern Indian Land corner outside Rock Hill and the Charlotte suburbs. Organizers in Rembert have indicated they want to take more control in local services, while residents in Van Wyck are hoping to stay ahead of Charlotte’s growing sprawl. Residents in the Lancaster County “Panhandle” are considering another new town called Indian Land, so those in Van Wyck wanted to incorporate first to remain independent.