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Should public speakers be a surprise?

YORK COUNTY, S.C. – In addition to being displeased with the York County Council’s decision to defer a Lake Wylie overlay ordinance amendment verdict until November, supporters of the amendment were upset when a representative of Walton South Carolina LLC was allowed to address the council without signing up prior to Monday night’s meeting.

The appearances segment of council meetings allows speakers who sign up in advance of the meeting to address the council. During this time, anyone can address the council about anything related to the county, whether it‘s positive, negative, short or lengthy.

On the meeting’s agenda, Walton had three representatives signed up to speak, one being an attorney. Following the attorney’s introduction of the developer, an unknown representative of Walton proceeded to enlighten the council on what was described as atypical compared to other proposed subdivisions near the lake.

But a portion of Walton’s property sits within the overlay district, and the subdivision could be affected by the amendment if it is approved.

Council Chairman Britt Blackwell asked the county attorney for legal clarification on the matter, due to supporters’ reaction to the Walton representative’s presentation. Comments like, “He’s not even on the agenda” and “That is unbelievable,” could be heard throughout the council chamber, and yet the legality of the situation was never completely addressed.

The situation fizzled out after Councilman William “Bump” Rodney said that because the speaker was with a group of Walton representatives, he didn’t see a problem with it.

Allison Love, who has been an active supporter of the overlay amendment, said she had asked permission to speak during the appearances segment without signing up to speak at previous meetings, and was not allowed to do so.

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