Annexation dispute leaves town councilman dangling

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AIKEN --- On March 25, Gene Smith, a resident of the Three Runs Plantation subdivision, was elected to a four-year term on the New Ellenton City Council.

The disputed 2005 annexation of the subdivision into the city persuaded Mr. Smith to get involved in local politics.

"If I'm going to be a part of the city, I want to be part of a good city," Mr. Smith had said of his reasons for running.

Now, seven months later, his position on the council is in question because of that same annexation issue.

Mr. Smith is no longer a resident of New Ellenton, not because he moved, but because of the improper annexation of the Three Runs Plantation subdivision by the city.

Earlier this month, Judge Jack Early of the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court ruled that the Three Runs Plantation subdivision, which is 3.5 miles east of the city limits, must be de-annexed from New Ellenton.

Mr. Smith's issue with the city began in November, when he received his property tax bill. At that time, he learned that he was a resident of New Ellenton.

Upon further investigation, Mr. Smith learned that the subdivision's annexation was not legal under the state's annexation laws, which say that for a city to annex land the property has to share a border.

The court agreed.

As a result of the court's recent ruling, it's unclear what will become of Mr. Smith's seat on the council.

"I don't know," he said. The city's "never faced this before."

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com.


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