Read our most recent newsletter • Sign up for emergency alerts
Tips for controlling mosquitos and associated threats around your home
May 4, 2016
Though the first case of Zika virus was confirmed in S.C. just last month, the Department of Health and Environmental Control emphasized that mosquitos in S.C. do not currently carry the virus. The person infected was bitten in a country where the virus is prevalent.
However, mosquitos are known to carry and spread many illnesses, including dengue, chikungunya, West Nile virus and malaria. One of the best ways to lower risk of mosquito borne illnesses is to avoid being bitten, said Tim Chatman, who is in charge of Georgetown County’s Mosquito Control Division.
“Homeowners can do a lot to protect themselves around their homes and help prevent a lot of big mosquito problems,” Chatman said. “Just emptying water from containers around the exterior of their homes — any container holding stagnant water — can do a lot to cut down the mosquito population.”
Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos. Females lay several hundred eggs on the walls of water-filled containers. Eggs stick like glue and remain unless scrubbed off. When water covers the eggs, they hatch and become adult mosquitos in about a week. Just a few infected mosquitos can produce large outbreaks in a community, the Center for Disease Control warns.
Mosquitos are a bigger concern than normal this year, because of the lingering effects of last fall’s historic flooding, combined with an unseasonably warm, wet winter. Those factors created ideal breeding conditions for the insect.
To help control mosquitos around homes, Chatman recommends homeowners empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots or trash containers. This should be done weekly.
Tightly cover water storage containers, such as buckets and rain barrels. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito. Repair cracks or gaps in septic tanks and cover open vents or plumbing pipes. Use screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitos out of the home.
People can also deter mosquitos by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats and using insect repellent.
Georgetown County Mosquito Control is placing traps throughout the county as part of an effort by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to collect samples of Zika virus testing. Data will be collected through November.
The Mosquito Control Division regularly conducts ground and aerial spraying. To request services in your area, call (843) 545-3615.
Resident advised to review new flood maps
April 30, 2016
Most Georgetown County residents consider themselves blessed to live in an area with so many natural water resources, but the downside is that those resources put much of the county in flood zones.
New federal flood maps released this year updated the flood risk level for many properties in the county. That will have a significant impact on insurance costs for some. And though the new maps are still out for public review and won’t be adopted until next year, county officials have been instructed to start enforcing new flood guidelines and zones now.
“Making sure buildings are built to flood regulations is a huge part of what we do because so much of Georgetown County is affected,” said Boyd Johnson, the county’s planning and zoning director. “It’s our job to make sure buildings — commercial and residential — meet these regulations. The regulations might add a little bit to the construction cost up front, but it’s worth it in the long run. A house that’s not in compliance might still get insurance, but it will be a lot more expensive.”
Requirements vary by flood zone and are tailored to threats ranging from waves to rising water.
“With the new maps, many of the boundaries have changed, so some homes that weren’t in flood zones before, now they are and they’ll have to have flood insurance if they have a mortgage. There are also a few places that were in flood zones and now they’ve been taken out,” Johnson said.
He encourages every property owner to review the new flood maps so they know what the changes may mean for them, and to call the Planning Department with any questions at (843) 545-3158. Members of the public can access the maps here. Select “Flood Maps” and enter your location information. Note that the map that comes up first is the existing flood map. Unclick the box and click on “2016 Flood Zones Proposed Unofficial” to view the new maps.
In regard to changes to regulations, Johnson said one of the biggest for Georgetown County residents is a new county requirement that adds an additional foot to the required federal minimum elevation. That change should go a long way in lowering the county’s flood rating, which would mean a county-wide discount for residents on flood insurance premiums.
Chickens now allowed in 5 more residential zones
Feb. 2, 2016
Since Georgetown County Council took action in late January to allow chickens in more densely populated areas, there has been a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding the action that took place.
Prior to an amendment, passed by Council on Jan. 26, only people in areas zoned “Forest Agriculture” or who had a residential lot of at least 2 acres in areas zoned “R-1AC” or “R-5AC” could have chickens. With the new allowances in the ordinance, at least some number of chickens are now legal on residential lots in five additional zoning districts. The affected districts are: R-1/2AC, MR-10,000sf, R-3/4AC, VR-10,000sf and R-10,000sf. Outside of these five zoning districts, there has been no change at all.
The five zoning districts chosen were selected because the intent of this amendment was to address the issue of chickens not being allowed in more densely populated neighborhoods. Nationwide, raising chickens has become a common practice in urban and suburban communities and, recognizing that, county staff and County Council deemed it was time to update county rules to allow that where appropriate.
Again, this amendment only applies to five of 26 zoning districts. Yet somehow the ordinance has been perceived as a countywide chicken ban, said County Administrator Sel Hemingway. Additionally there are rumors that the ordinance prohibits activities such as gardening and outlaws horses, cows and other livestock in rural farming areas. “That is absolutely untrue,” Hemingway said of the rumors.
To help alleviate some of the confusion, the County recently released the following list of what the amendment to the ordinance does and — perhaps just as importantly — what it doesn’t do.
View the list
Sign up for emergency alerts!
Click here for more Georgetown County news items.
You can also follow us on Facebook!