Georgetown County Council is willing to do away with impact fees, as long as residents approve a one-cent sales tax in next month’s General Election.
Council members approved a resolution at Tuesday night’s meeting authorizing the repeal. County officials were not sure Thursday when the repeal would begin if the ordinance eventually passes. It could be as soon as November.
The county cannot just do away with impact fees in the middle of a fiscal year without finding another funding source to replace them. By law the county is required to have a balanced budget and impact fees are part of those calculations.
However, county attorney Wesley Bryant said since the budget was balanced at the beginning of the fiscal year, if the loss of impact fee revenue caused a shortage, it could be made up elsewhere, including from the sales tax revenue, when it starts in May.
The “Development Impact Fee Act,” which passed in 2008, also requires that people who pay the tax must receive the benefits from it. If the county repeals impact fees without first securing sales tax funding, projects in the Capital Improvement Plan will not be completed.
Council has set up votes on an ordinance repealing impact fees so that the final decision will come on Nov. 13, one week after the election. The ordinance will be given first reading by title only on Oct. 9, and second reading on Oct. 23.
In other business
• County Council approved six Accommodations Tax grant requests. The county had $171,522 on hand for grants and received $567,922 in requests.
The lion’s share of the funds – $111, 522 – will go to the county Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism Marketing Commission for destination.
The Litchfield Corridor Beautification Committee will get $25,000 for maintaining Highway 17 medians; the county Parks and Recreation Department will get $20,000 for reconstruction of emergency vehicle beach access; and the Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire Department will get $15,000 for equipment.
Council member Lillie Jean Johnson was disappointed that a request from Bethel A.M.E. Church for $8,404 for a program on the underground railroad was not funded. She would like to see the program funded in the spring cycle.
• Council approved a change in the day care section of the county’s zoning ordinance to include adult day cares.
Planning Director Boyd Johnson stressed that this would not include assisted living facilities where people are there 24 hours a day.
Day cares are allowed in “general commercial,” “neighborhood commercial,” “rural village commercial,” and “village residential 10,000 square feet” zoning districts, and as conditional uses in “office commercial” districts.
• The county will now perform building inspections in the Town of Andrews under a one-year agreement ratified by County Council.
Inspections will be performed on properties for owners who submit building permit fees to the county.
The county will also be responsible for stop work orders and other enforcement orders.
• A $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay to turn a building on the campus of the old Andrews High School into a EMS station.
The money will pay for renovations and the construction of a driveway.
“It will not compromise response times,” said County Administrator Sel Hemingway. “It’s a win-win for the town and the citizens of thatservice area.”
• The county will spend $351,439.82 on an off-road truck for use at the landfill and $241,423 for two dump trucks for the public works department.
• A request to rezone 1.78 acres on Jackson Village Road from “10,000 square feet residential” to “limited industrial” was denied.
Benjamin Grate wanted to build on a water bottling facility on the property.
County Planning staff and the Planning Commission recommended denying the request.
A request to amend the front-yard setback on a 28,000-square-foot property on Oakmont Drive in Heritage Plantation was also denied.
Planning staff recommended denial because the owners, Paul and Jackie Amthauer, were granted a variance on the rear-yard setback in 2009 and staff felt there were other types of houses they could build.
The Planning Commission recommended approval of the request.
Council Member Bob Anderson said setbacks are there to protect neighbors from people who want to build big house on tiny lots.
“These are our laws we should stick with them,” Anderson said.
Council then approved a request by Stella Mercado to amend the rear-yard setback on a property in Huntington Mews East.
Both Planning staff and the Planning Commission recommended the change.
Mercado’s property is surrounded by open space on three sides.
• Robert Seganti of Pawleys Island was appointed to the Tourism Management Commission; Bill Hills of Murrells Inlet was appointed to the Economic Development Commission; and Gilmore McManus of Andrews was reappointed to the board of the Waccamaw Center for Mental Health.
By Chris Sokoloski
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