Irmo to annex grave site

By Al Dozier

The Irmo Town Council Tuesday agreed to annex a property that is considered a historical site containing burial grounds for African-Americans including some local leaders.

The 10-acre site on Archer’s Lane is owned by the non-profit Harbison Community Group. The organization sought the annexation to provide better law enforcement supervision of a site that is often targeted by people who enter the property and dig out areas in search of artifacts.

But the annexation raised questions about the town’s responsibility to maintain the property.

During the public comment period, Irmo resident George Glassmeyer said the security and maintenance of the property should be handled by the Harbison Community Group, not the town of Irmo.

Irmo Mayor Barry Walker noted the town has resources to support the restoration of the site. Council members voiced support for the annexation of a site with historical importance.

In other action the council approved an ordinance proposed by Councilman Kelly Busch that changes the number of readings required for approving ordinances and resolutions from three to two.

Busch said the requirement to have three readings is a formality that is not necessary and slows progress on needed actions. He said citizens who have concerns about a proposed ordinance are encouraged to call or email a council member after first reading.

Former Irmo Councilman Julius Waites spoke against the proposal during the public comment period. He said any ordinance needs three readings, which is the normal for most local governments.

The council also gave first-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.

The council approved the adoption of an amended Lexington County ordinance that allows the use of animal control measures with nuisance cats.

The council received an update from Capital City/ Lake Murry Country Regional Tourism Board President Miriam Atria, who said tourism is hurting in the Lexington area because of the coronavirus pandemic. She said the industry has seen a 50 percent drop in business.

She advised the council a redesign is underway at the Lake Murry Country Museum.

Atria presented the town with some new Irmo town banners reflecting a tree image in recognition of the town’s designation as a tree city.

The council approved the Small Business of the Month award to the Irmo Insurance Agency.

The council also heard a presentation from AKA Upsilon Omega Omega Community Garden on plans to use a $10,000 grant for a community garden in the Irmo area.

The council also received an update on the proposed Irmo Youth Zone from Dr. Akil Ross. The plan is designed to engage youth in the Irmo area in after-school activities as a method to cut down on housebreakings and thefts often attributed to young people.

Ross said the plan, now in its beginning stages, has a mission of enrolling Irmo youth in after-school and summer enhancement programs that include sports and arts projects.

In other action, Walker advised the council the town is hosting another drive-in movie event for Irmo Citizens this Saturday, August 22 at Anchor Lanes. The cost is $10 per car.