In January, 2014, controversial Lexington Town Councilman Danny Frazier resigned his council position. Although there were other reasons for Frazier to be removed from his seat, he cited that moving to a new home outside the town limits precluded him from serving.
Regarding the residency requirements of city/town council members, the South Carolina Attorney General found in 2008 that
…a member of Town Council … must be a resident of the Town. Moreover, if during a member’s term he fails to satisfy the required qualifications, Section 5-7-200 of the South Carolina Code (2004) requires that he or she forfeit the office.
A year after Mr. Frazier vacated his seat on Lexington’s Town Council, Councilman Ted Stambolitis built a home at 545 Peninsula Dr. in Gilbert.
Gilbert. Not Lexington.
The address is 15 miles from his stated residence at 108 Raymond Circle in Lexington. It’s also eleven (11) miles beyond the westernmost boundary of Lexington’s town limit.
According to county tax records, Mr. Stambolitis and his wife purchased the lakefront property in January, 2012. By 2015, the property was changed from “Lakefront: unimproved” to “Lakefront: improved” to reflect the construction of a four bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom, 3,054 square foot residence. In fact, the most recent Google Earth image of that location clearly shows a house on the property. A drive-by confirmed the address and the structure.
Lake and Main was aware of Mr. Stambolitis’ property purchase and construction on it last summer. An email was sent to the Councilman on 26 August, 2015 asking if he would resign when he moved into his new residence.
Mr. Stambolitis did not respond. It’s been six months.
A citizen may claim a home in a particular location if s/he “intends to return to that residence.” Indeed, that may be Mr. Stambolitis’ defense for remaining on the Town Council. He and and Mrs. Stambolitis are listed as owners of the home on Raymond Cir., although it is said to be occupied by their son.
Mr. Stambolitis is a successful businessman and for that, he is to be congratulated, even envied. His restaurant, The Flight Deck, is a landmark in Lexington and for good reason. Owning a lake home is the dream of just about everyone in Lexington County, so there is no fault in being able to live that dream. But that is not the point here.
The point is whether living that dream disqualifies Mr. Stambolitis from serving on the Town Council. Voters deserve to know if Councilman Ted Stambolitis is, in fact, a resident of the Town of Lexington.
If not, the legal thing to do – the ethical thing to do – is resign.