The circuit court upheld the validity of properly recorded restrictive covenants agreed to between the City of Rock Hill and the developer of a subdivision. The covenants required subsequent property owners in the subdivision to sign an annexation petition in exchange for receiving water and sewer services from the City.
The Court of Common Pleas for the Sixteenth Circuit granted the City of Rock Hill's motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff-landowners, concluding that the City's recorded annexation agreement with the original developer of the Miller Pond subdivision contained valid restrictive covenants that ran with the land and was therefore binding on the landowners. The court found that the Plaintiffs were in default of their obligations contained in the agreement, which required the developer's successors in title to sign any annexation petition.
In 1998, the City and the developer agreed to an annexation agreement, properly recorded, which granted the City easements to provide water and sewer service to the development. In exchange, the agreement required the developer and all title successors to sign any future annexation petition from the City. The City provided services to the development, then sought to annex the property. The landowners refused to sign the petitions.
The court found that the landowners took title to their property with legal notice of the agreement. The court found that horizontal privity is not a required element of a restrictive covenant in South Carolina and that even if it was, the City satisfied it. The court also held that the covenants sufficiently touched and concerned the land, as they significantly affected all parties" property interests.
The court concluded that "South Carolina law specifically authorizes the use of annexation agreements as a requirement for municipal utility service outside municipal limits." There was no fairness issue; the agreement was recorded properly and was in the landowners" chain of title, and the City complied with its terms. The court ordered specific performance as to the annexation petitions.
The court also held that the landowners were estopped from claiming that the agreement was unenforceable, having accepted water services made available solely because of the agreement. Furthermore, the landowners were bound by the developer's waiver of the right to withhold consent to the annexation petitions. The landowners ratified the agreement by accepting water service. Also, the agreement was enforceable under the doctrine of equitable servitudes.