DARLINGTON — Darlington County Council members took only a minute to re-elect their officers for another year during their first meeting of 2020 Tuesday (Jan. 8).
Members unanimously re-elected Councilman Bobby Hudson of Lamar chairman. Councilman Lewis Brown of Hartsville will serve another year as vice chairman. And Society Hill’s Councilman Dannie Douglas was re-elected chaplain. Brown and Douglas were also re-elected unanimously.
In other business, the council had first reading of an ordinance for a proposed update of the county’s comprehensive plan. No action is taken on first reading. State law requires counties to update their comprehensive plans at least once every 10 years.
Under South Carolina law, the Darlington County Planning Commission is charged with developing a continuing planning program for the physical, social and economic growth, development and redevelopment of the area within its jurisdiction.
According to the introduction to the 2020 plan update, the plans and programs “must be designed to promote public health, safety, morals, convenience, prosperity or the general welfare, as well as the efficiency and economy of its area of jurisdiction.”
The plan is required to address nine elements: population, economic development, natural resources, cultural resources, community facilities, transportation, housing, land use and “priority investment.”
The council has assigned the responsibility for economic development planning to the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership. The Darlington County Historical Commission is empowered to plan for historical resources. Darlington County also participates in regional planning efforts for transportation and water quality.
The planning commission’s role varies by element and includes leadership in some areas and coordination in others, according to the plan’s introduction. The overall effort also requires cooperation with the municipalities of Hartsville, Darlington, Lamar and Society Hill, special-purpose districts and semi-public agencies.
The comprehensive plan is intended to document the current state of Darlington County’s continuing planning program. The plan includes inventories of existing conditions relative to the nine planning elements as well as goals and implementation strategies for each of the elements.
The plan notes that while updates to the plan are required at least every 10 years, “... a healthy planning program will account for changing conditions in a community and revisit goals and existing conditions appropriately.”
It also points out that opportunities for assistance and partnership also arise that enhance the planning program and become substantive improvement to the plan document. The plan urges their adoption by the council and assimilation into the work of the planning commission and its staff.
The plan itself is 142 pages, including appendices. A vote on the plan ordinance will come when it comes up for second reading at the council’s next regular meeting in February. A final vote will come on third reading, probably in March.