PICKENS COUNTY — In a letter from the state delegation, it was stated that “county council will not entertain negotiations to buy the land back from MRR.” But at least three members of the Pickens County Council have since come forward and disputed the delegation’s claim.
Councilmen G. Neil Smith, Ensley Feemster and Tom Ponder all spoke to The Easley Progress on Wednesday, saying that they would be willing to buy the property.
“It’s assessed at about $1.9 million,” said Smith. “So if we were to buy it back, I think the county would willing probably to give them a decent return on that property if that’s what we’re looking at. But again, if we’re talking about an exorbitant amount of money, I’d say the best thing we need to do is to get the delegation to get this bill passed that says you can’t put coal ash in a level II landfill.
“It’s got to go into a Level III like the EPA (regulations) are stating. Or either just say DHEC needs to follow EPA rules,” he added. “I’m in favor of buying the property, but again, the property needs to be at a reasonable rate.”
Ponder and Feemster had similar sentiments.
“I’m not opposed to buying the land if it’s in the best interests of the county, but just to buy that property, if it would be something that we could benefit from as far as economic development, that’s one thing,” Ponder said. “But if it’s just to buy them (MRR) out, who’se footing the bill? The taxpayers.”
“We’re not going to ‘give away the farm for it’ as they say, but that land, most of it, is suitable for industrial development and so we would be willing to negotiate on that,” Feemster said. “I think we could give them (MRR) back what they paid for it, possibly a little more because they have spent some money planning this. We’re willing to look at what their costs were as far as that’s concerned.”
Both Councilmen Ponder and Smith assert that ultimately, it is the Department of Health and Environmental Control that has dropped the ball.
“The bottom line is DHEC is responsible,” Ponder said. “Our legislative delegation needs to camp out at DHEC’s office and get them to rescind that permit because what they (MRR) brought to us, to our planning commission, and we approved with their usage is not what DHEC is allowing them to do.”
“As far as us having to spend millions of dollars because DHEC didn’t do their job? It would be a travesty for the taxpayers of Pickens County,” said Ponder.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.