Indian Land about to have another seat at the table

joverman@fortmilltimes.comNovember 23, 2012 

Brian Carnes

— The recent election solidified Republican Brian Carnes’ nomination to the newly created Dist. 7 seat on the Lancaster County Council.

Carnes ran against Jerry Holt in the June primary but was unopposed in the general election.

Carnes, 53, is a lifelong Indian Land resident. He lives with his wife, Pam. They have three children and three grandchildren, with two more grandchildren on the way. He owns two small businesses and is a member of Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church. Carnes previously served on the Lancaster County School Board.

He will be sworn in on Jan. 14 at the first council meeting of 2013, but already he has been reviewing council meeting agendas and making sure he is up to speed on issues facing both the Panhandle and other parts of the county.

Right away, Carnes said, he expects to be dealing with the issue of business zoning in Indian Land.

The B3 zoning classification in Lancaster County has more than 80 possible uses, which many residents in Indian Land feel is too broad for a zoning district. A committee was created to make suggestions for an overlay district for the Indian Land area, which would enact new zoning for commercial property in the Panhandle.

The committee disbanded and the suggestions were never adopted by the council.

The Indian Land Action Council, a group formed to discuss issues relevant to the Panhandle, meets monthly and has been concerned over zoning problems in the community for more than a year.

“Zoning is still an issue,” said Jan Tacy, vice president of the Indian Land Action Council. “Our biggest issue.”

“The B3 zoning will be coming back up,” Carnes said. “It needs to happen as soon as possible, but it needs to be done the right way.”

He suggests the Planning Department should look at what other communities in the state similar to Indian Land are already doing and use it as a model for Lancaster County.

“They should look at that, involve the public, get feedback and then tweak it to where we are putting out the best plan so we don’t have to do this every few months. We want to put together something reasonable that puts into account existing property owners and future business. Everyone is going to have to give a little bit,” Carnes said.

In 2013, Carnes also expects the council to be faced with issues similar to ones they faced in the early and mid-2000s, before the recession ground construction to a halt. As the economy rebounds, he said, there will be an increased interest in residential development in the Panhandle. Already, he said, builders in the area report that they “can’t build houses fast enough for the interest they have,” he said.

He hopes that will encourage more developers to come to the Panhandle. The council needs to be prepared for those developers, he said, and to decide now how to ensure that the costs incurred by the development in the Panhandle, such as an increased need for schools and parks, are paid for by the developers.

Carnes favors the impact fee because “that puts the cost of development and the impact it created to the community back into the community. The rooftop fees we charged in the past went into the general fund and that didn’t help in the area the development was in,” he said.

Before he takes his seat on the council, Carnes is already thinking ahead to the nearly 30 committees he’ll be appointing to Indian Land residents. He hopes to find plenty of interest for the positions.

“They are a lot of work and not always a lot of praise,” he said. “but we will need folks to fill those spots. Those committees are responsible for making recommendations to the county councils. You want someone with a working knowledge of the committee who can have good input or at least a general understanding of the workings of the county.”

The newly created District 7 seat is the second council seat for Indian Land residents.

Having a second voice on the council for Indian Land residents will no doubt be an improvement for the citizens, Carnes said, but it’s by no means a magic wand.

“The second vote is key, but you will have to have two other votes to go with it. We won’t win every vote we put up there but I think our chances are better.”

Tacy agrees.

“We’re still 5 to 2,” she said. “But anytime you have one more voice that can speak for your issues it’s got to be favorable.”

Carnes joins Representative Larry McCullough on the council, who is serving his second term.

“I’m excited. I’m ready to go. I want to do the best job I can. I know every decision I make won’t please everybody but I hope most will,” Carnes said.

For more information about the committee assignments available, email Carnes at bcarnes1959@gmail.com or call 803-230-4852.

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