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      Judge stops Hartsville from shutting off water to 420 residents, for now

      A circuit court judge ruled Monday that the City of Hartsville is not to take any action on terminating the water and sewer services of 420 residents.

      Eight of the 420 Darlington County residents filed a temporary injunction last month to keep the City of Hartsville and the Darlington County Water and Sewer Authority (DCWSA) from disconnecting their water and sewer services.

      The residents' attorney, Patrick J. McLaughlin, says the judge will make a final ruling in the near future.

      The request for the injunction followed a letter residents received from Hartsville city leaders on June 30, telling them they have to sign a document allowing Hartsville to annex their property into the city or lose water and sewer services.

      The new deadline for the residents to sign the agreement was March 15.

      City leaders have said signing the agreement doesn't mean they will automatically become part of the city. That could be several months or even years.

      The city also stated residents who aren't willing to sign the agreement can have a well drilled or tap onto the Darlington County water system line.

      The eight residents believe they are being coerced into entering an agreement involuntarily, according to court documents.

      The documents say the eight residents have tried to find out through the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act alternatives available to them for water and sewer services, but have yet to get a response from city officials.

      McLaughlin says his clients are in a position to be irreparably harmed if Hartsville elects to disconnect water service.

      The irreparable harm would be the loss of water service and would leave them in a position of being unable to secure water service to their property, according to McLaughlin.

      The temporary injunction seeks a court order stopping any action from the Hartsville and DCWSA, and it requests the order remain in effect until this issue has been resolved.

      A Hartsville spokesperson says they can't comment because they're in the litigation process.

      We previously reported the injunction only impacted services to the 8 residents who sued. We have corrected the story to reflect that it impacts all 420 residents who received the letter from the city.