GREENWOOD — City Council agreed Monday night to postpone a vote to move forward with demolition and removal of the warehouse and office building at the former mill site on Kitson Street.
The move came following a public hearing on the issue. Six people spoke in opposition to demolishing the buildings, while one representative spoke on behalf of the neighborhood association near the site.
Michael Bedenbaugh, executive director of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, talked primarily about the office building on the site. He said he was authorized by his board of directors to discuss possible options with city officials for the building.
“Preservation works for communities,” Bedenbaugh said. “Five years from now, that building will add to whatever council decides to do with the property. In the short run, we can discuss ways to make it work.”
Council member Niki Hutto said the donated artwork to paint windows on the building rather than boarding up the windows could be a possibility. She also said officials could look at installing Plexiglas windows in the building.
“There might be people willing to donate their services to paint the windows,” Hutto said.
Council member Johnny Williams said he would be willing to postpone the vote on the demolition of the office building “if the building can be saved and made to look pretty.”
Jim Pfeiffer said he is opposed to the demolition and encouraged city officials to look at what the City of Greenville has done in revitalizing some of its old mill buildings.
“I’d love to see this city have a vision for these buildings,” he said.
Kathy Constant, who said she lives on the “fringe” of the old mill site, urged council to exercise patience in moving forward with the demolition. “Emotions should not overcome reason,” she said.
Chip Tinsley, president of the Greenwood County Historical Society, said the buildings could be used for some future development. “Once we lose those structures, we can’t bring them back,” he said.
A number of Greenwood Mill Village neighborhood residents were present at the public hearing, but only one representative spoke.
Cecile Fite, representing the neighborhood, said the group’s concern throughout the process has been “boarded-up, derelict” buildings, which she said would draw a criminal element to the area.
“We’re not waging war,” Fite said. “We love the buildings… we just don’t want them boarded up.”
One consideration in delaying the vote, City Manager Charlie Barrineau said, is that the company that is working on removing the smokestack will be finished with its work in another three to four weeks. If the company moves its equipment off-site, it cost an additional $2,000 per building to move the equipment back to the site if it is determined that the buildings need to be demolished. That would bring the total cost to about $30,000.
“I’d like to see us wait until we meet with Palmetto Trust and come up with a plan to present to the community, then go from there,” council member Betty Boles said.
Council voted unanimously to postpone the vote.
In other business, council gave second and final approval to a rezoning request for property at 316 Harvey Avenue from high density residential and manufactured housing to neighborhood commercial.
Also, second and final reading was given to an ordinance that reduces the number of parking spaces required for automobile/truck/motorcycle repair/service businesses.
First reading was given to an ordinance amendment that requires latches to be installed in connection with dumpster screening. Council gave unanimous approval to that measure.
Council also gave first reading approval to an amended ordinance that would eliminate the tax for vacant lots in the uptown special tax district. Barrineau said the tax assessed usually is less than the cost of a stamp to mail out a notice. Council voted 3-2 to approve the measure, as council members Kenn Wiltshire, Niki Hutto and Betty Boles voted in favor, while council members Ronnie Ables and Johnny Williams voted against it. Mayor Welborn Adams abstained from voting.
Council also approved an agreement with the S.C. Festival of Flowers concerning maintenance of topiaries.