The following letter was sent to Lake and Main unsolicited. With permission of the author, Mr. Charles D. (Dick) Kyzer, it is published here with only formatting changes and website link added.
To the Citizens of the Town of Lexington, the County of Lexington, the State of South Carolina, the United States of America, and the World.
Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 was Chartered in 1869, just eight years after the Town of Lexington was incorporated. Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 initially held meetings in the Lexington Court House. For the last 120 years, Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 has been at the present site at the corner of Butler Street and North Church Street. Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 is one of the very few, in Lexington County, who, on the same piece of Land with a certain purpose, remain today. Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 is entrenched at the current location. Lexington Masonic Lodge 152’s purpose is to do positive things and be value-added to the surrounding community. Positive things happen at our current location. And positive things radiate from our current location.
Earlier in 2018, Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 was approached by Johnny Jeffcoat, of the Town of Lexington’s Office of Community Development, about the possibility of the Town of Lexington paving the Lodge’s parking lot for free. After several meetings, the offer was declined.
The offer seemed like “a land grab.” Why would the Town of Lexington want to pave the parking lot “for free?” A few weeks later, a Brother of Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 was called by Ron Williams, a Council Member*, about “buying Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 totally out.” Although Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 planned to stay at the current location of 120 years for Eternity, out of curiosity, much time and some money was spent on research to determine the cost of relocating.
At the meeting to discuss the requested research, certain members of Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 met with the representatives of Mayor Steve MacDougall and the Town of Lexington. Those representatives included Britt Poole, Johnny Jeffcoat, and Ron Williams. Immediately Johnny Jeffcoat stated that “when he was discussing the paving of the Lodge’s parking lot, he had no idea about this new opportunity.” This “new opportunity” was the plan for a new Marriott to be built across Butler Street from Lexington Masonic Lodge 152.
Due to the very short period between Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 “being offered the gift” of getting the parking lot paved “for free” and the plans for a new Marriott, how did Johnny Jeffcoat not know “about this new opportunity” when his job and responsibility is to bring in new business?
At the time, Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 knew nothing of the plans of a new Marriott. Within moments of Johnny Jeffcoat’s statement; Britt Poole, the Town Administrator, stated “the elephant in the room is that we can enforce Eminent Domain.”
The representatives of Mayor Steve MacDougall and the Town of Lexington did not arrive at the meeting to discuss the requested relocation research. They arrived with hostile threats and the intentions of stealing the property from one of the oldest organizations in Lexington County and the World- just because the Marriott needed overflow parking.
Shortly after the threat of Eminent Domain, and Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 has been threatened verbally several times by the Town of Lexington, the Town of Lexington laid on the table their appraisal of the Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 property and building.
Their appraisal was approximately $300,000. The appraisal was unacceptable to Lexington Masonic Lodge 152. The Town of Lexington admitted that they did not do their due diligence in appraising the true value of Lexington Masonic Lodge 152. Weeks later, the Town of Lexington offered $480,000. This offer was rejected due to the researched cost for Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 to relocate.
At another meeting, the representatives of Mayor Steve MacDougall and the Town of Lexington proposed paving the Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 parking lot and adding additional adjacent parking from other properties on the Lodge’s side of Butler Street-properties which had yet to be acquired by the Town of Lexington. Britt Poole even requested that the Masons not discuss “this plan” with the adjacent landowners because the Town of Lexington had to “first negotiate with these other landowners to make this happen” (this could mean to threaten them with Eminent Domain like the Town of Lexington did to Lexington Masonic Lodge 152).
Lexington Masonic Lodge 152’s Building would be surrounded by a parking lot with the Lexington Masonic Lodge 152’s parking lot being used “for overflow” from the new Marriott-which would include towing signs for non-Marriott employees and guests. Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 Members would have to park behind the Lodge Building.
Hoping to reach a compromise, Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 reached out to the Town of Lexington and requested minimum funds to obtain a Lawyer who better understood the Laws of indemnity, easements, etc., to better protect the Lodge.
The Town of Lexington’s offer is unacceptable and rejected.
Also, Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 does not appreciate the Town of Lexington’s contractors, who worked on the one-way street project, dumping mounds of tar and road materials for periods of time on Lexington Masonic Lodge 152’s property without permission.
These actions show additional disrespect by the Town of Lexington towards Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 and all other property owners.
According to the Lexington County website, on 10 May 2018, two parcels of land were sold by DAWB, LLC (please do your research on DAWB, LLC) to 116 EAST MAIN STREET LLC (and, please do your research on 116 EAST MAIN STREET LLC).
One parcel was 1.015 acres (TMS#004320-05-007) for $1,000,000 (Book page 19995-16). The second parcel, .239 acres (TMS#004320-05-006), was also sold for $1,000,000 (Book page 19995 16). 116 East Main Street LLC is the entity responsible for the new Marriott.
116 EAST MAIN STREET LLC (Marriott) has already spent $2,000,000 on approximately 1.25 acres. The Marriott needs a dedicated overflow parking area. Land adjacent to the Marriott, on their side of Butler street, can be bought for the overflow parking.
Also, the Town of Lexington seems out to “obtain the triangle” between North Church Street, Butler Street, and North Lake Drive. The Town of Lexington has bought and sold some of these properties in the past depending on the Town of Lexington’s financial situation (look at the history of property transfers on the Lexington County website). Also, please remember, that a few years back, a contractor wanted to build housing across from the Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Church Cemetery on the Town of Lexington property in this area. Due to the “push back”, this did not happen.
As noted before, the Town of Lexington requested that Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 do research to determine the cost of the Lodge to relocate. Many hours and some money were spent working on this request. A suitable piece of land was found. The cost of the land was $150,000, plus incidentals. Research was done on the cost of a smaller building. Per Murphy Contracting, this building would cost $1,083,000. Estimated total cost for Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 to relocate from the current location of 120 years is approximately $1,500,000. However, if the relocation cost were less than $1,500,000, any money left, minus $20,000, would be returned to the Town of Lexington. The $20,000 would be donated equally between Lexington Interfaith Community Services (LICS) and the Shriner’s Hospital for Children by the Town of Lexington and Lexington Masonic Lodge 152.
Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 is not interested in selling, giving away (the Town wanted Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 to “deed them the property”), or having any piece of the current property stolen.
Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 will continue to do positive things. And, Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 will park on our current property unimpeded for Eternity.
Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 needs your support in defending our property of 120 years from the Marriott. The Marriott can buy unoccupied property, on their side of Butler Street, for their overflow parking.
Lexington Masonic Lodge 152 truly needs Your Support!
Thank you very much for reading this letter and Your much-needed Support!
The Brothers of Lexington Masonic Lodge 152, with the Support of many Others, submit this Letter to the Lexington Community and the World so all will know THE TRUTH of what has transpired before and since the revealing of the plans for a new Marriott.
22 October 2018
Charles D. Keyzer
Lexington Masonic Lodge #152* EDITOR’S NOTE:
Councilman Ron Williams was contacted about his role in the Town’s negotiations with Lexington Masonic Lodge #152. His response:
In executive session, the Mason parking lot was brought up. MacDougall said “Condemn it.” Some said “No.”
I suggested that because of some Masonic friends I have that I might be able to get the negotiations restarted. Council unanimously said for me to try. I met two times, one-on-one with a Mason. I informed the Mason I would not do the negotiating, a staff member would have to be involved. Britt (Poole), Johnny (Jeffcoat) and myself then met with the Masons three times and reported back to council after each meeting.