Standing room only; Citizens gather to protest Public Improvement District
LANCASTER - Crowds extending out-the- door of the council chambers was a sight to see during the standing room only crowd at the Lancaster Council Meeting held Monday, Aug. 8.
The agenda consisting of multiple public hearings kept the council in session until nearly 10 p.m. with the largest crowd stemming from the proposed Public Improvement District for the Meadowview subdivision.
“They [the residents] have been trying for six years to get this going and this is the first time they have had the required number of signatures on the petition [more than 50 percent of the residents] to be able to come forth to council and seek approval, “ said City Manager Opal Mauldin Robertson.
Residents wearing “No” to Meadowview PID buttons were scattered amongst the crowd fearing their civil liberties were going to be taken away and they would be double taxed if this vote was to pass before council.
“Five years ago my husband and I moved looking for nothing to do with Home Owners Associations or PID fees and I just don’t see where there is a benefit to us in Phase 1, “ said Wendy Dillard during the public hearing.
“The people collecting signatures for the petition promised more safety and when I asked the Chief of Police about it during the interactive budget workshop this past Saturday, said they couldn’t do that for a specific community.”
According to several residents in Phase 1 of the subdivision, they didn’t have an HOA when they moved into the community, just phases 2-5 did.
Mayor Marcus Knight wanted to make sure everyone in attendance had an understanding of how a PID is different than an HOA.
According to Robertson an ordinance passed in 1989 declared all new subdivisions built within the city to have an HOA.
“If it’s active or not is another thing but, Phase 1 of the Meadowview subdivision does have an HOA,” said Robertson.
Knight replied to the constituents in attendance, “you are supposed to be made aware when you purchase a new home [you are joining an HOA], I urge all here tonight to look into this.”
Robertson told the crowd an HOA is property maintenance and upkeep and a PID is to collect the assessed dues and is not a double entity, it’s a mechanism all are paying their share to maintain the community.
The majority of speakers were upset even though they pay dues, their community isn’t kept.
“The city does not have governing control over your HOA’s,” said Knight.
“All the city can do is make sure you follow proper city code enforcement ordinances.”
The Meadowview subdivision is located in District 4 Councilman’s James Daniels’ district.
Council approved the PID district with a 4-2-1 vote. Knight and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Nina Morris opposed and Councilman Marco Mejia remained neutral.
“ I saw both sides and felt Phase 1 was getting dragged into something they didn’t want and I wanted to be able to negotiate to break them off the agreement since that’s where most the opposition came from,” said Mejia.
The Monday, Aug. 22 council meeting will host another public hearing where the five year plan and budget will be discussed for the newly approved PID.