GEORGETOWN, SC (WBTW) – The Georgetown Planning Commssion Tuesday voted down a measure that some warned could kill a deal to sell and reopen the Georgetown Steel Mill. The vote was 4-3 in favor of a motion to disapprove the measure.
“I’d love to see it come,” said Ray Hammond, a now-retired steelworker who worked at the mill for more than four decades. “Id love to see all these young people come back.”
Inside the large auditorium at Georgetown High School were many like Hammond, hopeful after Tuesday’s decision against a plan to zone areas of Georgetown which include the steel mill.
Representatives for the mill’s current owner Arcelor-Mittal said the proposed rezoning could be a “death sentence” for the deal to sell the mill to Liberty House LLC.
“It seems kinda funny to have Liberty House Group to come in and wanna purchase the plant and get 250 people back to work wages anywhere from sixty to eighty thousand dollars a year, 17 and a half million dollars that could be pumped into the economy,” said steelworker Tupelo Humes, who left when the mill closed in 2015. “It’s unheard of for a governing body to wanna move forward with a rezoning project that’s gonna take 20 to 25 years.”
Several who spoke during the public comment period echoed these sentiments, not understanding why the rezoning and beautification plan remained on the table in light of a deal to sell the plant and reopen it, and put hundreds back to work.
“Beautifying downtown when there wasn’t a buyer I can understand,” said Humes, who plans to run for City Council later this year. “But when you’ve got a legitimate steel company coming in now and telling you ‘Hey we wanna run this plant,’ I mean all bets should be taken off the table.”
Applause erupted when the final vote was tallied, though Mayor Jack Scoville said he still hopes the rezoning plan can move forward.
“If it’s not gonna reopen, it needs to be re-purposed,” Scoville said. “If it’s not going to be re-purposed, it should reopen.”
Scoville said he hopes to work with new buyer Liberty House LLC to help beautify the city and reopen the plant together.
After the results were announced, even retired steelworkers were ready to go back to work.
“I would go back in there to train people, I would,” exclaimed Hammond.
The decision will go now to the full City Council who will decide at their next meeting in May what to do about the rezoning plan.