Greenwood City Council voted 5-2 to extend a face-covering requirement for the city during a special called meeting Monday night. Mayor Brandon Smith and Councilman Ronnie Ables voted against the emergency ordinance.
“This is the exact same ordinance you passed in January,” City Manager Julie Wilkie said at the meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Johnathan Bass said he asked Dr. Matthew Logan, Self Regional Healthcare’s chief medical officer, to come to the meeting and provide information to him on the current state of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Bass said the situation is similar to what Greenwood saw in October.
He said several people had contacted him who favored extending the mask ordinance.
Councilman Matthew Miller said he was concerned about Lander University students returning from their spring break.
The city’s mask ordinance was set to expire at 8 a.m. March 10. The new ordinance will extend that to 8 a.m. May 10.
“I am personally in favor of a mask ordinance albeit just slightly different,” Smith said.
Council considered an emergency ordinance similar to the mask ordinance that passed which would only apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. That ordinance failed when no one made a motion to approve it.
Ables has consistently voted against a mask ordinance citing his concerns about its enforceability. He has said before he supports people wearing masks but does not believe the government should mandate them.
“There is a lot of urgency,” Bass said. “The hospital and medical community should be commended. They are doing the best they can.”
In July, council approved its first mask mandate of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Council would go on to extend the mandate by emergency ordinance in September, November and January. Monday’s vote was the fifth time council has voted to approve an emergency ordinance mandating the use of masks.
Council voted 3-3 — effectively ending the matter — on a motion to approve a traditional ordinance which would have required the use of face coverings until rescinded by council or Gov. Henry McMaster ended his state of emergency. Smith, Ables and Bass voted against that ordinance while Councilwoman Niki Hutto, Councilwoman Betty Boles and Miller voted for the ordinance.
Bass said at the time his problem with the ordinance was the permanent nature of it. Bass has voted for all of the emergency ordinances.
Council also voted unanimously to approve the annexation of nearly 80 acres at 1400 Florida Ave. and Elementary Avenue into Greenwood.
“It is slated for future residential development,” Wilkie said.
A public hearing on the annexation will be March 15 when council will vote on final reading. If annexed, the property’s zoning would be converted to general commercial and R-3 residential zoning. Wilkie said those zoning designations were similar their current zoning in the county.
Wilkie said the developer had some challenges to the design after a wetlands survey was conducted on the property. The developer has since purchased the property and is in the process of redesigning the layout.
Mark III Properties twice requested the property be rezoned twice, but withdrew both requests prior to the planning commission’s meeting. The company most recently wanted the property to be rezoned from commercial zoning, C-2 and single-family residential, R-1, to master-planned residential.
The developer’s application said the overall density of the project would not exceed 268 lots and the use of master-planned residential would allow “more economical and efficient use of the property.”
The application noted that the developer would seek annexation into the City of Greenwood.
The developer has a similar plan for property near Greenwood High School off Cokesbury Road and Northside Drive. That proposal also sought to have the property zoned for master-planned residential and annexed into the city.
Mark III also withdrew that request before the planning commission was set to meet in February. The planning commission denied a rezoning request for the parcel in November after nearby residents voiced their concerns. The developer withdrew the request before it made it on a Greenwood County Council agenda.
While the projects are similar, council only considered the annexation of the Florida Avenue property at its Monday meeting.