News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Nov. 12, 2012
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- A new Aiken County government complex is quickly taking shape off University Parkway in Aiken County.
However, there's a slight problem. The county wants city water, which traditionally means the county will have to annex into city limits and meet stricter city ordinances.
"The city's code is more stringent than the county's,” said Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian.
In the last meeting, the City of Aiken, including Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, wasn't satisfied and sent the county architect back to the drawing board to redraw plans, which include a bigger buffer of trees between the construction and houses behind the site, particularly those on Lincoln Avenue.
"At maturity, it'll be a fairly thick, dense buffer, but it'll take a few years to get there,” said Killian of the revised buffer plan.
"Well, what I've seen is actually on paper, and what transfers from the paper to reality on the ground could be very different, and it will be a long time before it gets there,” said Rosemary English, chair of the school board and also a neighbor of the construction site.
English is still concerned. She says the county could and should have left trees standing for a buffer instead of clear-cutting the site completely.
"Everything would look much nicer, and they wouldn't be going through the additional money of having to replace the buffer,” she told News 12 in her backyard, which now overlooks the construction site at the bottom of what seems to be a canyon.
She and her neighbors are also concerned about traffic increases, light pollution and the fact they weren't consulted before the county started building behind their homes.
"We believe we'll be a good fit once we get everything built. Right now, it's an industrial site being built, but it'll be an office building when it's open,” Killian said.
Killian says if the Aiken City Council does not approve the plan in its meeting Monday night, the timeline of the project won’t be ultimately affected, but it could end up costing taxpayers a little more.