PELZER, S.C. (WSPA)- Records show the South Greenville Fire District bought property from the family of the chair of the fire district’s board of commissioners.
Last week, 7News reported that South Greenville Fire District Commissioner John Jennings bought about four acres from the district for $25,000 in 2018.
“I know there’s alot of people down there that are very concerned about the direction that that fire district’s been going for several years,” said Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill.
In December of 2017, the South Greenville Fire District bought about four acres of land on U.S. Highway 25 from the Blakely Family Limited Partnership. The registered agent of that entity is Terry A. Blakely Sr., according to records from the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office. Blakely is the chair of the South Greenville Fire District.
Dill said he believes the sale was a conflict of interest.
“I don’t see how it cannot be,” Dill said.
Greenville County Councilman Lynn Ballard, who represents the area where the district is located, said he dosen’t think it’s a conflict of interest. He said that’s because Blakely did not vote on the sale.
“Absolutely it would have been if he had participated in the sale and the agreement to purchase,” Ballard said.
The district is building a fire station on the land in question. Ballard said the district was originally planning on building the new station on the piece of property that it later sold to fire Commissioner John Jennings.
He said they scrapped that idea because inspectors were concerned about the lack of direct access to a major road.
“Because there is no access to Highway 418 direct, and [they’re] not going to build a station…then you have to come out of the station and turn right,” Ballard said.
He said he began looking into the sale, as well as the sale of district land to Jennings last year after one of his constituents asked him about it. He said he investigated potential issues with the county attorney.
“I wanted to make sure nothing illegal had been done,” Ballard said. “And nothing illegal had been done.”
He said both land sales could have been handled better because although neither commission voted on the sale of land that involved them, they didn’t leave the room as they should have.
Blakely and the fire chief did not return requests for comment.
Dill said he thinks state lawmakers should ask for a forensic audit of the South Greenville Fire District.