By Al Dozier
The Irmo Town Council voted September 1 to extend the town’s mask mandate another 30 days.
The ordinance, which was scheduled to expire September 1, will now extend through October 4.
The action follows similar extensions recently enacted by Richland County and other municipalities in the Midlands seeking to prevent the continued spread of the coronavirus.
Citizens will be required to wear face masks or coverings while inside a restaurant or retail store. This would include but is not limited to grocery stores, convenience stores, sporting goods stores, furniture stores, clothing stores, pharmacies, laundromats, and alcoholic beverage stores.
Violators could face a $25 fine.
Councilman Barry Walker said the virus spread is coming down and the mask ordinance seems to be working.
“We are asking citizens to use their heads,” he said.
“I think it makes a difference,” said Councilwoman Kathy Condom.
Walker, Condom and Councilman Erik Sickinger voted in favor of the extension. Councilmen Bill Danielson and Kelly Busch opposed it.
In other action the council gave first reading to an ordinance that will increase annual rental property registration fees from $50 to $150, and increases the penalty for non-payment from $100 to $500.
Council members noted the town doesn’t have a lot of revenue resources and needs the extra income. Those affected are mostly large rental businesses.
The town of Irmo will hold a Free Movie for the Irmo community September 26. Kirk Luther of the town’s Events Committee said the movie The Sandlot will be held at Steve Padgett Honda.
The council also gave second-reading approval to an ordinance that provides the town with authority to conduct inspections on rental properties to make sure they are in compliance with safety regulations. The ordinance will allow town-sponsored inspections instead of relying on outside regulators to make determinations about safety issues. Sickinger said it will make Irmo safer.
“We don’t have to worry about renters living in unsafe or unsanitary homes.”
The council gave unanimous second reading approval to the annexation of a 10-acre cemetery site on Archer’s Lane, which is owned by the non-profit Harbison Community Group. The land is considered a historical site containing burial grounds for African-Americans, including some local leaders.
The Harbison group sought the annexation to provide better law enforcement supervision of a site that is often targeted by intruders who enter the property and dig out areas in search of artifacts.
The council also gave second reading to an ordinance that changes the requirement of three readings to approve an ordinance to two readings.
Council members agreed a third reading is simply a formality and unnecessarily extends the time adopting ordinances.
The council gave first reading to an ordinance rezoning property adjacent to S.C 60 owned by John and Ellen Adair from Neighborhood Commercial to General Commerce. The property will be the site of a family practice facility built by Lexington Medical Center.
The council also gave first reading to an amendment that removed jail time for persons in violation of the town’s Nuisances ordinance. Part of that ordinance restricts grass height on a lawn, an offense some council members say is too minor to require any jail time.
“You don’t need to go to jail for not cutting your grass,” said Busch.
But Walker said there were other provisions regarding unsanitary and unsightly conditions that were serious enough to require jail time. He cast the only vote against the measure.
The council received an update on a planned Future Growth Corporation for the town of Irmo, which is designed to help businesses in the Irmo community. Councilman Sickinger said negotiations are now under way with a bank to set up a loan program for businesses in need of financial help.