Stuart Bedenbaugh

Stuart Bedenbaugh pictured here during a July 9 Aiken City Council work session.

We need to make some clarifications over the proposed Aiken Municipal Development Commission that was talked about at Monday's council meeting.

We had written a story in advance of Monday's meeting and some things didn't connect and that caused some confusion. But at times during Monday's discussion among the council, there seemed to be some confusion.

Let's attempt to get everything right. Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh stopped by the Aiken Standard office Tuesday to discuss what the commission may do if it's started.

"The role of the Development Commission is an entity viewed to work in cooperation with the City of Aiken and the Aiken Corporation," he said. "The role it would fulfill as an arm of the community that would assist the Aiken Corporation, which is a 501c3 (nonprofit) and the City of Aiken which is a municipal entity."

Bedenbaugh went on to say the commission would help in development projects, studies and economic development within the City of Aiken.

One public speaker believed, from our story, that when a potential project reached the City Council there would be only one public hearing.

The clarification should be if the planned commission has a project, they would have one planned public hearing, and if the item passes then it moves on to possibly the Planning Commission and they would have one planned public hearing, where it would finally reach City Council with the standard two public hearings. A potential total of four.

"It will have advertised meetings based on state code and their decisions will be made in public and they will be recording their meetings and producing minutes," Bedenbaugh said.

Bedenbaugh said any decisions the commission makes are "subject to the rules and ordinances of the City of Aiken."

The idea for the commission is from Councilman Ed Woltz who said this would offer a potential company one entity to start with and have most of the primary discussion with. And the fact the commission would most likely be comprised of people who have come from larger companies and have the knowledge to help attract a new business to Aiken – throughout the city, not just opportunity zones.

"This will be like a one-stop shop (for a new company)," Woltz said. 

The idea would seem to be a good plan. But there was confusion among the City Council members since this idea is still being built and as Bedenbaugh said, "to say it's in its infancy is overstating it, it's not even embryonic."

The item passed on first reading by a vote of 5-1, with Dick Dewar voting against. During the meeting Dewar said, "I don't know what it is."

The passing of the first reading will set in motion workshops to refine the plan before passing completely.

And from what happened on Monday, there probably need to be several workshops before anything is finalized. 

At least that's the way it should be and also the way Bedenbaugh felt Tuesday.

"I don't like to rush things," he said.

With this, time should be on their side.