Tag: state law

County Staff Puts Council Members in No Win Position with Fireworks and Sexual Predator Ordinances

Horry County Council is currently considering two ordinances that appear to be attempted end runs around state law and with the probability they will both be declared unconstitutional when challenged.
One of those ordinances deals with establishing “fireworks free zones” by resolution of county council “in addition to those designated fireworks prohibited zones” under state law.
The other ordinance states the “County Council desires to protect minors” by adding additional requirements and monitoring for ‘child oriented’ businesses by attempting to root out potential sexual predators before issuing business licenses.
In a county whose politicians profess to be so very “conservative”, these ordinances are vast expansions of governmental regulation into the private sector. And just because a new law is passed, there is no guarantee that less fireworks will be discharged in a given area or children will be more protected from potential predators.
The county doesn’t have the resources to effectively enforce the provisions of either ordinance.
Having ordinances that are unenforceable or illegal drafted and put into the legislative process is a failure on the part of county senior staff.
While council sets policy and staff carries out that policy, staff members are not excused in this process from failing to point out to council what is bad or illegal policy. In the case of these ordinances, we have both bad and illegal policy. Why do we have a county legal staff, for example, if this is not the case?

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Second Reading of Illegal Fireworks Ordinance Before County Council Tuesday

(The above image courtesy of TheStreet)

Horry County Council will consider second reading of an ordinance that would allow council to designate fireworks free areas by resolution.
How this ordinance made it to second reading is a mystery considering it totally ignores state law.
State law, section 23-35-175 (C) states, “an owner, a lessee or managing authority of real property may establish a Fireworks Prohibited Zone by (1) filing a Discharge of Fireworks Prohibited Agreement with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the subject property.”
The only thing counties are allowed to do under state law with regards to fireworks prohibition is extend into public land a fireworks free zone after a request from an adjacent property owner who has already established a fireworks prohibited zone on his property by completing the above procedure.
Yet, the county ordinance states, ““County No Fireworks Areas shall be any geographic location, as determined by County Council, wherein the prohibition against fireworks under this section is deemed appropriate. Such areas may be designated only by Resolution of County Council and must state with adequate specificity the area encompassed as to be readily identifiable by the general public and Horry County officials and employees.”
The question is why wasn’t county staff, particularly the county attorney, not aware of the contradictions of state law contained in the proposed county ordinance?
According to sources familiar with this ordinance, council member Bill Howard initiated the process for this ordinance at the behest of some constituents. It’s fine to work on behalf of your constituents’ desires, but it’s even better if it is done within the law.
There has been a recent pattern with the county acting in violation of state law. It was recently discovered the county stormwater fees were illegally raised on open space, agricultural and forested lands earlier this year, after a county resident sent a copy of state law to county staff. The county is now in the process of having to determine who paid the increased fees on prohibited types of land and provide refunds to those owners.

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Coast RTA Asking County for Specifics

Coast RTA is asking Horry County Council to give specifics in writing defining “good faith effort” as it relates to the council’s prior request for increased representation on the Coast RTA board.

This request for increased representation held up initial approval, by council, of FY 2014 fourth quarter funds for Coast RTA of approximately $263,000.

The population of the Coast RTA board is determined by current state law. County council currently gets to approve one board member, council member Gary Loftus at this time.

County council would like to appoint three members to the Coast RTA board, which it believes to be in line with its grant contributions of approximately $1.06 million per year (six-tenths of a mill) to the Coast RTA budget.