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KERSHAW – The four-member Kershaw Town Council has decided to change the look of its new Town Hall.
It voted unanimously at a special meeting Thursday to modify the plans for the $825,000 building, which is already under construction.
At its April 6 meeting, council members asked for an outside architect to look over the plans for the 6,000-square-foot building, now under construction on Hampton Street.
The foundation for the building has been poured, framing has been done and walls are up.
Town officials said they have received many complaints about the proposed look of the building.
“There has been a lot of concern,” said Councilman Wade Hunter said at the special meeting. “We’ve gotten a lot of requests to take a second look.”
Town Administrator Tony Starnes said some residents said it looked too much like a funeral home.
The architect for the project, Ed Bowers of Millenium Three Design Group of Charlotte, also designed Baker Funeral Home, owned by former Mayor Tommy Baker.
Baker resigned from his post on April 6. His mother, Town Councilwoman Rose Marie Baker, and Councilman Jabo Sims also resigned before the council’s April 6 meeting. They have given no reason for their resignations.
Some town residents say the three resigned due to control issues with new Councilmen Russell and Randy Seegars being sworn in that same night.
Paul Woody, of PWAI Architecture of Charlotte, consulted with the new council on the design of the building.
He said due to the shape and height of the original plans, the proposed Town Hall doesn’t seem “very civic looking.”
The building looked too “squat,” Woody said.
He presented council members with some drawings that show a higher roof topped with a cupola and a higher porch. He suggested raising the roof by 3 feet.
“We made the porch more inviting,” Woody said at the special meeting. “In a civic building, you want to invite the people in.”
Woody also reconfigured the drive-through area of the plans. He said the original plan could have been confusing to drivers using the window.
Nothing that has been built has to be torn down, Woody said. The added height can be done in the roof area.
Councilman Morris Russell said adding roof height, larger columns and porch to the building will increase the cost of the building.
Russell said the town doesn’t know yet how much changing the plans will increase the cost of the building.
After council members looked at the proposed changes, they took a 10-minute recess to allow residents who attended the meeting to look at them.
“Ninety percent (of residents) didn’t like what we had,” Russell said of the original plans.
After the meeting, residents Sarah Price and her daughter, Sherry Hunter, said they were happy they were given a chance to look at the proposed changes and new plans.
“There was an outcry for public input,” Sherry Hunter said.
“At least we’ll have a city hall that looks like a city hall,” Price said. “I think the people of Kershaw will be quite happy with the way it will look.”
Hunter and Price said they hope Thursday’s meeting is an indicator of a more open town government.
“I just feel like they (Russell, Seegars, Wade Hunter and Councilman Eddie Coates) want to do what’s right for the town,” Sherry Hunter said. “I didn’t see any personal agendas. They didn’t have to take a break and ask us for our opinion.”
Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 283-1151