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South Carolina Divorce 101

Divorce is a difficult decision for anyone, whether it's you or your partner who initiates it. It's a painful experience that can leave you feeling shattered and alone in the dark. When you made your wedding vows, you did so with the intention of being together for life. You invested a lot of time and money into your wedding, inviting friends and family from all over South Carolina to share in your joy.

Now, you're faced with the harsh reality that you and your former spouse are no longer together. As your family law attorney in Campobello, SC, we understand how overwhelming this can be. We've assisted many clients through the divorce process and had the knowledge and tools to help them work through it and move on to greener pastures.

The CDH Law Firm Approach to Child Custody in South Carolina

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau states that 25% of children younger than 21 live with just one parent while the other parent resides elsewhere in the country? In such circumstances, many families must navigate the complicated and legally complex process of child custody. As seasoned family law attorneys, we have represented clients in all aspects and legal stages of child custody and support.

We focus in providing services for a range of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Drafting Reasonable Proposed Parenting Plans
  • Preparing Child Support Calculations
  • Communication with a Guardian ad Litem (if applicable)
  • Securing De Facto Custodian / Psychological Parent Rights
  • Negotiating Agreements Relating to Child Custody
  • Prosecuting Claims Related to Domestic Violence
  • Prosecuting and Defending Claims for
  • Adoption,
  • Termination of Parental Rights
  • Custody, and
  • Visitation
  • Defending Claims Alleging Abuse / Neglect by the Department of Social Services

Every family has its own distinct characteristics, and as such, child-related agreements must also be customized to fit each unique situation. In South Carolina, our team of skilled family law attorneys takes the time to understand our clients' individual goals and needs and tailor our services accordingly.

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South Carolina Alimony 101

When you get married, you go into the partnership believing that you'll be together forever. It makes sense, then, that most divorcing couples don't know very much about alimony in South Carolina (also referred to as spousal support). They ask questions such as:

  • Who gets alimony?
  • What is a reasonable amount of alimony?

Fortunately, working with a family law lawyer in Campobello, SC, can answer those questions and make alimony easier to understand and approach.

 Family Support Attorney Campobello, SC
Family Law Attorney Campobello, SC

What is Alimony in South Carolina?

Many individuals often mistake alimony for child support, but they are, in fact, two distinct forms of financial obligation and not mutually exclusive. Alimony was established to safeguard a supported spouse in the event of a divorce or separation. For example, a spouse who did not work during the course of the marriage would generally have a stronger alimony claim than a spouse who worked throughout the marriage. Likewise, a spouse who worked throughout the marriage but made less than the other spouse would have a stronger alimony claim than a spouse who worked and earned equivalent income to the supporting spouse.

In many cases, a spouse may choose to stay at home to tend to the children and manage the household. Oftentimes, the spouse who remains at home has sacrificed their career or education to care for the family. In such instances, a divorce could leave the financially weaker spouse in a state of financial turmoil. Without that support system, they will have to start over from scratch. These are some factors the Court will consider in evaluating an appropriate alimony case. Throughout your marriage, you have structured your quality of life based on a budget determined by your finances. While all expenses are shared by both partners, what happens if you have been financially dependent on your spouse and need to support yourself?

At Cobb, Dill, & Hammett, LLC, we aim to assist you in securing the alimony you need to support both yourself and your children. At the same time, we want to ensure that you are not overpaying your spouse, if you are the one required to pay. You may be required to pay an amount that could leave you in a difficult financial situation. Regardless, it's crucial to have the right legal representation to guide you through the alimony process in South Carolina.

The CDH Law Firm Approach to Alimonyin South Carolina

Some people may assume financial responsibilities to a former partner are end with the filing of a divorce decree. However, if the court has mandated alimony payments, then the financial obligations survive. Failure to meet those obligations can lead to serious legal and financial consequences. Family law attorneys at CHSA Law, LLC have years of experience representing clients throughout the divorce process, including alimony determinations.

Our legal services cover many aspects of alimony law, such as:

  • Negotiating Temporary and Final Alimony Payments
  • Modifying Alimony
  • Providing Advice on Reasonable Alimony
  • Filing to Collect Unpaid Alimony

Though our family law attorneys are fearless negotiators and litigators, we always strive to keep your legal proceedings as seamless and straightforward as possible. Our goal is to help reach an agreement on alimony that is reasonable for both you and your spouse. However, compromises aren't always possible. If needed, our lawyers will fight aggressively on your behalf to help ensure your financial rights are protected.

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Trust the Cobb, Dill, & Hammett Difference

Dealing with family law cases can be incredibly trying, particularly when it comes to matters of separation or divorce. As your family law attorney in Campobello, SC, we recognize the challenges you're facing. With that in mind, know that we're committed to offering empathetic legal counsel on your behalf, no matter how contentious or confusing your situation may become. Contact our law offices today for your initial family law consultation.

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Latest News in Campobello, SC

County Council looks to expand zoning. What that could mean for Boiling Springs, Campobello.

Three years after enacting zoning for southwestern Spartanburg County to regulate growth, County Council is moving forward with plans to bring zoning to the entire county.Planning Director Joan Holliday told council members Monday public input will be sought in drafting a performance zoning plan to be ready for council approval by this fall.T...

Three years after enacting zoning for southwestern Spartanburg County to regulate growth, County Council is moving forward with plans to bring zoning to the entire county.

Planning Director Joan Holliday told council members Monday public input will be sought in drafting a performance zoning plan to be ready for council approval by this fall.

The plan would not apply to incorporated towns and cities, but could bring order to fast-growing unincorporated areas like Boiling Springs and Campobello, where many residents have said uncontrolled growth has brought traffic headaches.

Some residents said they want to see what's in the plan before outright supporting it.

"If you surveyed citizens of this county today, most would say that development is out of control," said Sally Rock of Campobello. "Will the proposed zoning be a political path to more rapid development? How do citizens in the southwest corner feel zoning is working there?"

Southwest zoning plan moves forwardZoning plan for southwest corridor approved

Spartanburg County's Southwest Performance Plan is modeled after Lexington County's plan, Holliday said.

The 160-page Southwest Performance Zoning Plan covers a large area from Greer to Woodruff, where most of the current industrial and residential growth is occurring.

At first, county officials anticipated expanding the zoning to four other areas, piece by piece, but have now decided to simply expand the Southwest Plan countywide.

If enacted countywide, it would replace the county's 22-year-old Unified Land Management Ordinance (ULMO) that has regulated development with rules such as buffers, height, landscaping and setbacks.

Over time, the ULMO has been criticized by many residents as too weak to protect against sprawl and address infrastructure needs such as roads, before growth happens.

Two years ago, County Councilman Bob Walker cited an example, saying the ULMO would not prevent an RV park planned on Landrum Mill Road in northern Spartanburg County that residents have opposed, but performance zoning might require the developer to find another site.

Performance zoning, on the other hand, is loaded with what uses are allowed in certain areas. It classifies roads from most traveled to least traveled: arterial (heavily traveled); collector; local; limited local; restrictive local; and residential local.

The greater the traffic volume on a road, the more uses that are permitted, such as schools, daycare centers, hospitals, flea markets, retail stores and manufacturing facilities.

Highway 101 is an example of a major arterial road with the highest classification.

The zoning also includes restrictive districts by protecting rural areas and guiding development toward population centers.

Former County Councilman Roger Nutt, who headed up the process of drafting the Southwest Plan, said the plan preserves property rights – a major concern at the outset of planning.

Public input will be sought on zoning plan

Holliday said meetings will be held with council members and planning commission members in February and March, followed by "stakeholder engagement" from April to August.

Planners will then seek public input from July to September, with a planning commission review in September, and finally three readings of the ordinance by county council in September, October and November.

Details of where and when public meetings will be held have not been finalized.

Residents react to zoning effort

Campobello-area residents critical of uncontrolled growth said the plan is long needed.

"I was a big proponent of performance zoning," said Jeffrey A. Horton Jr., a resident of northern Spartanburg County. "I feel it's the only way to regulate growth and preserve rural areas of my district.

"It's not necessarily meant to stifle growth, but guide it where it can become viable and manageable. People are jaded with traffic, state of our roads and over-congestion this population growth has produced, yet no one is actively addressing these issues."

Lou Nespecca of Campobello said he hopes the plan provides grandfather provisions to exempt some current uses.

"I would find it hard to tell someone who has done something for 25 years it is now illegal," he said. "I would like to know the push behind this agenda. Do they now want to over-develop other areas of the county and plan to force people out of their current situation? What happens if the pig farm was there first, and houses start to pop up around it?."

Rock, one of many northern Spartanburg County residents who oppose a planned RV park near Landrum, said she hopes the county is sincere in taking public input into account.

Opponents of the RV park were upset after the Planning Commission gave conditional approval to the RV park in March 2021. Opponents said they were not notified ahead of time. County officials said the park plan was on the Planning Commission's agenda and properly posted on its website a week before the meeting.

"This county has a track record of not welcoming citizen input and ignoring citizens' concerns when it comes to development and a vision for the future," she said. "Folks feel they have zero voice in local government land use planning. If you surveyed citizens of this county today, most would say that development is out of control."

Nathan Williams, a third-generation farmer on Highway 357 in Campobello, said the influx of housing developments is causing streams to flood more often and destroy topsoil needed for crops. He's also seen more traffic on narrow roads, making it impossible at times for his combine – a machine to harvest grain crops – to get to fields without the use of an escort.

He said he hopes the zoning plan will preserve farmland and steer growth to population centers.

"I don't know the solution," the 60-year-old farmer said. "I'm just concerned that in our future, we're not going to have anything left to farm."

Mike Brady of Boiling Springs has often been critical of the lack of county planning in Boiling Springs, where commercial growth branching out from the Highway 9 corridor has prompted many discussions about whether Boiling Springs should be incorporated with its own laws.

"The county has always held the opinion that zoning is the answer, but look in areas that have zoning regulations like Greenville County. I don't see it has worked very well there," he said. "Council holds the opinion that I am anti-growth, I am not. I'm for the county doing its job of planning areas for the benefit of the communities the growth will impact.

"Roads are a prime example of the tail wagging the dog. Let development come in unplanned, congest an area, and then try to address the problem on the back end. Old-timers like myself are looking at leaving the communities we have loved and worked in for a lifetime because of the issues lack of planning has created."

Black Business Month: Fat Ass Heifer Cidery, The Seafood Spot and more in Spartanburg County

John Macomson’s entrepreneurial spirit sparked at a young age.He grew up in Cherokee Springs, a rural community outside of Boiling Springs, where his family grew peach orchards. He remembers his mother and family often traveling to Hendersonville, North Carolina to pick apples to bring home and store. When he was just 6-years-old, he saw an opportunity with those apples.“I found I could take the apples to school and sell them to kids for a nickel,” he said. “I think about that today, and I think, you wer...

John Macomson’s entrepreneurial spirit sparked at a young age.

He grew up in Cherokee Springs, a rural community outside of Boiling Springs, where his family grew peach orchards. He remembers his mother and family often traveling to Hendersonville, North Carolina to pick apples to bring home and store. When he was just 6-years-old, he saw an opportunity with those apples.

“I found I could take the apples to school and sell them to kids for a nickel,” he said. “I think about that today, and I think, you were 6 years old and you were loading up your book satchel with apples, but it worked.”

Until a teacher stopped and halted his operation, of course. But that was just the beginning of Macomson’s business endeavors.

Today, Macomson owns and operates Carolina Software as a Service, Inc (CSaaS) and , part of Motlow Creek Ranch and Cider Company, Inc. in Campobello, two of many successful Black-owned businesses in Spartanburg County.

August is recognized as National Black Business Month, a time to celebrate the prosperity of Black business owners in the Upstate.

Computers, cows and cider – John Macomson does it all

When Macomson started college at Clemson University, he knew he wanted to work for himself.

“I ended up going into Clemson as an administrative management major and as part of that I had a computer science class, and I fell in love with computers,” he said. “I changed majors my first year and I didn't look back.”

Macomson graduated with an MBA, and eventually started his software company in 1994, first as an accounting software reseller. In the early 2000s, the company shifted gears from a reseller to designing and owning software solutions to sell to clients.

Today, CSaaS provides IT solutions and custom software applications to clients like the National Association for Campus Activities, the SC Department of Social Service and Spartanburg School Districts 1 and 3, among others. Many of the current clients are crossovers from when the company was a reseller.

“We know that we're small and almost all our customers are significantly larger than we are, so we like to think when a client trusts us to do something, it's imperative that we deliver. I think that's one of the things that sets us apart,” Macomson said.

However, when the software company hit a rough patch during the transition in the early 2000s, Macomson also invested in another passion – farming. Macomson had sights set on opening a recreation ranch with miniature cows as the draw.

“I got into cows. I wanted to have something I could do by myself without having to have any employees just in case I got into that situation again,” he said.

In 2014, Macomson purchased a farm that doubled the size of land he previously owned. With the 51 acres of property, Macomson combined the love for cows with something new – producing cider – and started Motlow Creek Ranch and Cider Company in 2015.

“I read an article about the upswing and hard cider and how that was coming back, and I like wine, and I'm thinking, I think I know a little something about growing apples,” he said. “But when we started doing more research and went to training on it, we realized there was a lot we didn't know about making cider. But we worked with it for a couple of years and got things going.”

After a few years of research about cider and what apples grow best in humid South Carolina weather, Macomson opened Fat Ass Heifer Cidery in June 2019.

“This gave us a chance to combine the two,” he said. “With the cows and the land, I found farming to be relaxing. I found the opportunities in farming today are not as we traditionally think of it. It's not so much selling a product as much as it is selling the experience.”

Macomson said most of his orchards are still young, but he’s growing 30 different varieties of apples on the farm. The two he’s most focused on are Harrison Cider Apples and Hewes Crab Apples. The cider names, like Sassy Black Baldie and Lowline Dirty Heifer, stick to the cattle theme.

There are ongoing plans to expand the ranch and build an event space on the farm that has a serene few of the mountains. The space will have a tasting room, gift shop and will hold weddings and other events.

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought some setbacks, Macomson said having the software company helped sustain the cidery during the summer of 2020. He said the timeline for the event space will be within the next few years.

Though the two companies could not be more different, Macomson says he uses the same mentality to run them both.

“On the entrepreneurial side, I enjoy looking at different ideas. I enjoy looking at things and trying to make them go,” he said. “While it's tense, at the same time, you don't really feel like it's work. You almost feel like, man, I get paid to do this.”

Fat Ass Heifer Cider is open Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is located at 10125 New Cut Road Campobello, SC.

The Seafood Spot brings authentic Lowcountry cuisine to the Upstate

Greg and Kenisha Brantley are both from the Low Country of South Carolina. With Greg from Hampton County and Kenisha from Beaufort, they each grew up around Gullah Geechee culture and Low Country seafood at its finest.

Five years ago, the couple moved to the Upstate, where their daughters were both studying in college.

“One day we wanted seafood and we started looking, and there was nothing like what we had in the Low Country,” Mr. Brantley said.

That’s when the idea to open their own restaurant took off. Mr. Brantley said he knew how to cook and still had plenty of connections in the Low Country. In 2018, the Brantleys opened their first location for The Seafood Spot in Greenville. The Spartanburg location opened not long after in December 2020.

“We had a lot of people coming from Spartanburg to eat at the restaurant ask if we would come to Spartanburg,” Mr. Brantley said. “The community has shown a lot of love in coming out.”

The Seafood Spot sources blue crabs out of Beaufort and shrimp when it’s available. They also get fresh seafood – oysters, fish and scallops – from Hampstead, North Carolina.

Opening the Spartanburg store during a pandemic created challenges, but Mr. Brantley said the restaurant relied a lot on friends and family to support the store as employees. However, the spot remains successful.

The most important part of the experience, Mr. Brantley said, is the origin of the fare.

“All the recipes are from the Low Country and passed down from generation to generation,” Mr. Brantley said. “It comes from our heritage, the history of the Low Country, where most of the slaves came out of it, and the Gullah people. It brings Low Country seafood to the Upstate. We cook it with love and we’re proud to be here in this community.”

The Seafood Spot is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is located at 200 Dawn Redwood Dr #600, Spartanburg.

Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery

Clevedale Historic Inn and Gardens

A list of Black-owned businesses crowd-sourced by OneSpartanburg, Inc., the City of Spartanburg and Spartanburg County can be found here.

Kathryn Casteel covers growth and development for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Contact Kathryn at KCasteel@shj.com or on Twitter @kathryncasteel.

Conditional site plan approval granted for controversial RV Park in Spartanburg Co.

CAMPOBELLO, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A controversial proposed RV park in Spartanburg County took a step forward on Tuesday.The potential park on Landrum Mill Road in Campobello has been in the works for two years, and the Spartanburg County Planning Commission is giving it the OK.“The threat to all of this is real. Health, safety, the environment,” said Sally Rock.Rock is part of a group of neighbors fighting these plans.They’re concerned about safety on the narrow road and environmental impacts....

CAMPOBELLO, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A controversial proposed RV park in Spartanburg County took a step forward on Tuesday.

The potential park on Landrum Mill Road in Campobello has been in the works for two years, and the Spartanburg County Planning Commission is giving it the OK.

“The threat to all of this is real. Health, safety, the environment,” said Sally Rock.

Rock is part of a group of neighbors fighting these plans.

They’re concerned about safety on the narrow road and environmental impacts.

“It’s not harmonious development to dump that type of septic sewage next to a conservation area, to add 75,000 vehicles through there,” she said.

Alex Shissias is the lawyer representing the developer, Blue Sky Associates, LLC., and believes it comes down to neighbors not wanting an RV Park in their backyard.

“Last time I checked, this is America. And you’re allowed to do with your land what you’d like to do,” he said.

An initial application for the development was granted conditional approval by the Planning Commission in March 2021.

Neighbors filed an appeal for a septic tank permit approved by DHEC staff. That appeal was successful, and the DHEC board rescinded the permit. The permit was reinstated after a challenge to the South Carolina Administrative Law Court because the initial appeal was filed too late. That decision by the Administrative Law Court is now being challenged by neighbors and their lawyers.

A new application for the RV Park was submitted in February, the two changes from the previous application were making the lot from 50 spaces to 49 and changing the water supply source.

Spartanburg County Planning Commission voted 6-2 to grant conditional site approval on Tuesday. The approval is contingent on receiving approvals from Spartanburg County Public Works for a stormwater permit, SCDHEC for a well permit, and withdrawing the previous application from 2021.

“We have no doubt they’ll appeal the planning commission decision to the circuit court and then to the court of appeals, and in the meantime we’re going to proceed on with our other permits,” said Shissias.

While Tuesday’s meeting did not include a public hearing for this development, one person was given five minutes to speak, but neighbors say they want more opportunities to make their case.

“It’s a clearcut situation of the people being denied an opportunity to be heard on a major development in their community,” said Rock.

Copyright 2023 WHNS. All rights reserved.

Duke Energy paid premium for SC substation land

Greenville NewsCAMPOBELLO, S.C. – When Duke Energy, using a subsidiary, purchased a 199-acre pasture in Campobello in March to build a new substation, it paid a premium.Duke paid more than $10,000 per acre more for its property than the next closest recent land-only sale in Campobello. Last year, land on Frontage Road sold for $15,000 an acre. Two years ago, another site sold for about $7,500 an acre.Duke paid $25,000 an acre when it purchased land for $4,963,500 from former Spartanburg County Counci...

Greenville News

CAMPOBELLO, S.C. – When Duke Energy, using a subsidiary, purchased a 199-acre pasture in Campobello in March to build a new substation, it paid a premium.

Duke paid more than $10,000 per acre more for its property than the next closest recent land-only sale in Campobello. Last year, land on Frontage Road sold for $15,000 an acre. Two years ago, another site sold for about $7,500 an acre.

Duke paid $25,000 an acre when it purchased land for $4,963,500 from former Spartanburg County Councilman Frank Nutt on March 30, according to the property deed.

Duke Energy plans to build a new 500-kilovolt substation on the land as part of its $1.1 billion Western Carolinas modernization plan.

Duke set off a firestorm of criticism from residents and business owners in northern Spartanburg and Greenville counties and western North Carolina when it recently revealed plans to erect new high-powered transmission lines to run between its new transmission station to a proposed natural gas plant on Lake Julian near Asheville.

The substation, which Duke said it wants to build in 2016, would be home base for the new project.

Critics have pointed to the high price Duke paid for the land as antithetical to its commitment listed on its project website of minimizing the costs to its customers.

Nutt, a developer and cattle farmer, purchased the largest chunk of the land in 1994 and added several adjoining parcels in 1997, 2007, 2013 and last year.

Nutt said this week he’d purchased the property as an investment and used it mainly for his cattle to graze.

He said he wasn’t looking to sell, but was approached by a real estate agent who wanted to buy it for a client.

“He never would tell me who it was and I, of course, was curious,” Nutt said.

Nutt said he found out Duke Energy was the buyer when the utility released a press statement to announce the project months after he’d sold the land.

“I was willing to sell it but was not looking to sell it,” Nutt said. “I had not listed it and had no immediate plans to sell it.”

A company called TBP Properties LLC bought the land. It was formed in 2006 and is listed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as one of six South Carolina-based Duke subsidiaries.

“We occasionally use a subsidiary, like many large companies, when we do not want to lose our negotiating position,” said Meghan Musgrave, a Duke spokeswoman.

Asked why Duke paid a premium for the land, Musgrave said the company doesn’t discuss its negotiations.

Duke considered property size, proximity to existing infrastructure, ecological and physical characteristics of the property and overall impact to the community, Musgrave said.

“We feel this site is the best option that meets all of this criteria, and we worked with a property owner that was willing to sell,” she said.

Nutt said though he initially wasn’t planning to sell, he was surprised he was able to negotiate such a high offer.

After he found out who the buyer was, Nutt said he can’t imagine a better use for the property than as a substation.

“There’s no noise. There’s no pollution. There’s no traffic from it. There’s no odor,” he said. “Probably a horse farm or a cattle farm would have more of a nuisance than this would.”

Patrick Knie, an attorney and neighbor to the property who has taken legal action to find out more information about the project, said he found it amazing that Duke would pay $25,000 an acre “because you could buy all the land you want up there for $15,000 an acre.”

Realtors opposed to Duke’s plans also questioned the sales price and showed comparable sites sold for far less.

Duke paid more per acre than every other large (20 acres or more) land-only purchase in the Upstate or Polk County in North Carolina except one in the last five years, according to an analysis of data from the Multiple Listings Service. The one higher price was for 22 acres on Highway 101 near BMW in Greer.

The average price-per-acre of land sales in the last five years was $5,145 per acre.

Nutt turned around and purchased 675 acres from Pacolet Milliken on Rainbow Lake Road in Spartanburg for $2.3 million, or $3,400 per acre in April.

He’s preparing some of that land for pasture now, he said.

Duke will continue to gather comments from stakeholders through mid-August on a proposed route through the mountains for its transmission lines. Then it plans to announce a route by the first of next year, Musgrave said.

Meanwhile, residents are already having their say following a series of three meetings Duke held to show the proposed routes and gather information.

More than a dozen have already left comments with the South Carolina Public Service Commission on a page set up to collect comments as they await Duke’s proposal, said Dukes Scott, director of the Office of Regulatory Staff.

More than 3,000 have signed a Change.org petition to stop Duke’s project.

The transmission lines would allow Duke to import power from Asheville as well as export power from South Carolina so the utility can use the most cost-effective type of generation available, Musgrave said.

It would allow Duke to connect its Duke Energy Progress systems in North Carolina to its Duke Energy Carolinas system in South Carolina, she said.

“All generation that is routed through substations and transmission lines will now be connected to the entire system throughout this region, she said.

Duke plans to complete its transmission lines project by 2019.

Duke Energy to announce route for controversial power line in October

Duke Energy Progress will announce the planned route for a 40-plus mile high-voltage line from Campobello S.C., to Asheville in October — three months ahead of schedule.Duke (NYSE:DUK) is accelerating the timeline to accommodate residents of the area — many of whom oppose the line— who told Duke they want some resolution about where the line will go.And while Duk...

Duke Energy Progress will announce the planned route for a 40-plus mile high-voltage line from Campobello S.C., to Asheville in October — three months ahead of schedule.

Duke (NYSE:DUK) is accelerating the timeline to accommodate residents of the area — many of whom oppose the line— who told Duke they want some resolution about where the line will go.

And while Duke has shortened the deadline for choosing the final path, it has extended the deadline for people in the western Carolinas to comment on the proposed routes. The comment deadline originally set at Aug. 16 is now extended to Aug. 31.

Residents pleased

Becky Barnes, head of Spartanburg, S.C., public relations firm Capital Ideas Inc., is a founding member of the Foothills Preservation Alliance. The group opposes putting the line anywhere in the broad area Duke has proposed for the route. Barnes says her group is encouraged by Duke’s decision. In fact, she says, it asked for it.

Her organization and a number of local community groups had a fruitful meeting with Duke on Tuesday that was organized by the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, the state’s consumer advocate for utility issues.

“I think Duke understands that we are a region and that we have concerns about putting a line anywhere through here,” she says.

Power upgrade

The 40-to-45-mile line is part of a $1.1 billion project to upgrade power generation and transmission in western North Carolina. Last week, Duke appointed utility veteran Robert Sipes to a newly created position of manager for Duke Energy’s western North Carolina region in part to shepherd this project through the approval process.

“We’ve been listening closely to potentially impacted communities and landowners along the study routes and have heard overwhelmingly from them the need to expedite the review process to reduce the period of uncertainty for selecting the final route,” Sipes says in announcing the new deadline for choosing the path of the line. “While we are expediting our decision, we are not sacrificing thoroughness.”

Differences remain

Barnes says the Foothills Preservation Alliance hopes Duke will decide that none of the proposed routes is acceptable. To that end, her group is encouraging public comments be sent to Duke, either through Duke’s website for public input or through the alliance’s website.

Barnes says her group is hopeful it can change Duke’s mind. But the company has not publicly backed down from its contention that the $320 million line and substation are necessary and will have to run from major transmission lines already available near Campobello to key infrastructure just south of Asheville near Fletcher.

That means that the line will have to run somewhere through the region that the alliance and other power-line opponents want to protect.

Beefed up

Duke spokesman Tom Williams says the company has staffed up the team working on the proposed line. The company has received 3,000 comments from the public and expects more, so it has assigned additional staff to make sure all comments are read and properly digested.

Duke also has beefed up the staff assigned to do the engineering and siting work on the line to address legitimate concerns raised by the comments.

But he talked in terms of narrowing the choice to a specific route in a broad zone that covers parts of four counties in the Carolinas.

“We will be alleviating the concerns of some of the folks along the various alternative routes we have talked about,” Williams says. “We are narrowing the universe of the people upset by the possible routes by working to determine a single path for the line.”

Tourist economy

Barnes and her allies say there is nowhere in the broad corridor that will not have a severe impact on the economy of the foothills region. She appreciates Duke’s decision to accelerate the planning time and arrive at a final proposal. She says the current situation has already curtailed sales of commercial and residential real estate.

But she says that any high-voltage power line from Campobello to Asheville will hurt the economy in an area that is distinguished as a tourist destination.

The Tryon Resort and International Equestrian Center is a vital part of the economy in the region. The power lines would disrupt the equestrian trails in the region and mar the visual appeal of the region, she says.

Rising demand

Williams has figures that show peak demand in Duke Progress’ Asheville region jumped 29% from 2013 to 2014. And he says there was a similar increase in the peak earlier this year.

The proposed line will connect a 650-megawatt natural gas plant Duke Progress will build in Asheville to the Duke Energy Carolinas grid in South Carolina.

That will allow for greater sharing of power in the region. This will help ensure power reliability in the Duke Progress Region, which serves more than 160,000 customers in eight N.C. counties around Asheville.

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