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Council gives first approval to Indian Land fire district

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By Reece Murphy

County Council unanimously approved first reading of an ordinance to establish the Indian Land Fire Protection District on Tuesday.
Several members of the Indian Land Action Council attended the meeting and later cheered council’s unanimous decision.
“A fire department should be equally supported by everyone in their service district – both residential and commercial,” said Jan Tacy, secretary of the action council, during the public comment period of the meeting.
“Firefighters should have the necessary equipment and gear to keep them safe when they risk their lives to save our property and our lives,” she said.
No one spoke in opposition to the proposed district.
The proposed fire district is intended to generate revenue for the Indian Land Volunteer Fire Department through an annual charge of $75 on residences.
Businesses and other uses will be assessed at $75 per 2,500 square feet. There is no exception for tax-exempt entities.
In approving first reading of the ordinance, council voted to repeal similar fire protection districts already in place in the Sun City Carolina Lakes, Edenmoore, Belair and Turkey Point subdivisions. Those districts pay $90 a year on their residences.
The new fire district would be operated by a special five-person commission consisting of the Indian Land Volunteer Fire Department chief or someone else from the department and four community residents appointed by council.
Revenues raised by district fees, estimated by Indian Land Action Council at more than $300,000, would be used to fund permanent improvements and capital expenditures, including buildings, equipment and infrastructure for the department. The fees could also be used to pay debt service on general obligation bonds, leases or “other forms of indebtedness allowed by law.”
The proposed fire district is about 21 square miles. The approximate boundaries are from Steel Hill Road to just south of Possum Hollow Road, from the York County line to Macedonia Church on Van Wyck Road, from the state line to the intersection of Stacy Howie Road, and then northwest to just south of Possum Hollow Road.
A public hearing and second reading of the ordinance is set for Jan. 25. Final reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 1. A non-binding advisory referendum on the district is set for Jan. 18.
What’s in a name?
In other business, council tabled first reading of a proposed amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance concerning the procedure for renaming roads.
The measure comes as council considers the possibility of renaming Charlotte Highway (U.S. 521) and Fort Mill Highway to better reflect the Indian Land community’s identity.
“I’ve known for a long time, the biggest problem in Indian Land is an identity problem,” Councilman Rudy Carter said.
Under state law and county ordinance, the county Planning Commission determines road name changes.
The proposed amendment would allow council to submit a written request to the Planning Commission for a suggested name change. The only current avenue for road name changes requires a written request from a person, firm or corporation accompanied by a petition signed by 75 percent of the owners addressed on the affected road.
The commission previously recommended denial of the text change.
In tabling the ordinance, council agreed to send the proposed issue back to the Planning Commission for reconsideration.
Councilman Larry McCullough, who represents Indian Land, suggested potential names for U.S. 521 might include Indian Land Boulevard on the north end of the highway and Lancaster Parkway on the south end.

Contact reporter Reece Murphy at rmurphy@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151