BISHOPVILLE – Coca-Cola officials say they want to go full steam ahead with plans to expand their shipping and warehouse facility in Bishopville.
Expansion plans were put on hold in September after the city notified South Atlantic Canners that it could not support closing a section of Cousar Street that officials said was a prerequisite for expansion.
Lee County Council has begun action that will enable it to petition the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court to close a section of Cousar Street located in front of the warehouse. Plant Manager Troy Santoscoy said corporate officials met Wednesday with a representative of county council and Lee County Director of Economic Alliance Jeff Burgess.
“Coke has agreed to write a letter to the county council asking it to go ahead with closing the road,” Santoscoy said. “This is good news.”
Burgess agreed Coke’s continued interest in expanding its facility in Bishopville is good news for the entire community.
“We want Coke to know we support them,” he said. “And they have let us know that they support our efforts in closing the road.”
More than 100 people packed the main courtroom of the Lee County Courthouse at the first public hearing, with most in attendance apparently in support of the road closure.
County officials have said they are taking the action because the city didn’t. City officials insist they do not have the resources to maintain the section of Cousar Street that will remain open after the road is closed.
County Council Chairman Charles Arthur Beasley said council will do whatever is necessary to support Coke in its plans to expand.
“This is coming at a time when most companies are considering cutting back,” he said. “You don’t have that many companies willing to expand. We have to take advantage of this and support Coca-Cola. They are the county’s largest industry.”
A second public hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the courthouse. Council has given the ordinance two readings, and a third reading could take place at Tuesday’s meeting, Beasley said.
“This is about more jobs, a better tax base and a better quality of life,” he said.