Is county backtracking on I-526 compensation?
A plan to compensate people who live within 1,000 of the proposed extension of Intersate 526 has not moved forward.
County Council last month narrowly approved moving forward with the controversial road project. Councilwoman Anna Johnson was swayed to cast one of the deciding votes in part because of an amendment she proposed that required the county to put forth “a good faith effort” to compensate people who live within 1,000 feet of the road for the impact it would have on their property. But county officials haven’t even come up with an estimate on how much such compensation would cost. They have no idea where the money would come from, and are uncertain whether the plan can be carried out.
County administrator Kurt Taylor said staffers eventually would have to come back to Council with thoughts on the compensation plan. But, he said, “This is very complex, and we haven’t figured out if or how it can be done.” The proposal falls outside the regular boundaries of how property for road projects is acquired, he said. “How we would accomplish that outside regular boundaries remains to be seen.”
Steve Thigpen, the county’s director of transportation development, said the regular rules for acquiring property and compensating owners through eminent domain apply only when the proposed project would actually touch someone’s property.
In the case of I-526, project money from the S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank could be used to cover the cost of property through which the road would pass. But it can’t be used to pay people who would live near it for a drop in property value, he said.
Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier. Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.