Anderson County Council approves incentive package for solar project

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By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Council gave first reading approval for an economic incentive package for a proposed solar facility in District Six. The project, called Project Azul, will receive a fee in lieu of taxes agreement as well as certain special source revenue credits.
Economic development director Burriss Nelson explained that the property currently generates sixty one dollars a year in property taxes. If the facility is constructed the land use designation will change from residential agricultural to manufacturing. The taxes generated under the new rating will be approximately seventeen thousand five hundred dollars. Over the twenty year life of the FILOT arrangement, that will mean $350,000 in taxes compared to the current rate which would generate $1200 in twenty years.
The planning and public works committee, chaired by Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, presented two ordinances to the full council for review and a vote. Both related to the storage of commercial equipment in areas zoned residential. The first focused more on subdivisions, which often have covenants and other restrictions of their own in place. That proposal won first reading approval with little ado.
The second ordinance, however, seems likely to undergo serious amendment during the next two readings. Several councilmen, including Messrs. Graham and Dunn, expressed serious reservations about imposing such control over the more rural properties in the county, especially for those who operate businesses from their homes.
Chairman Dunn expressed concerns that people operating lawn care or landscaping services, or any such enterprise involving equipment would be seriously impacted by the ordinance. “I just don’t want to see people who have been doing this for years suddenly told they can’t.”
Councilman Graham, who represents large rural areas, also expressed similar concerns, saying that being unable to bring equipment home would pose a hardship. “Many of these people have been working from their homes for years and years. I’ll vote for this on first reading, but a lot of work needs to be done if you want my vote for final approval.” Dunn nodded vigorously.
Councilmen Davis and Sanders, the other members of the PPW committee, both stressed that the thrust of the ordinances was to avoid unsightly situations in residential neighborhoods. Chairwoman Wilson pointed out that the grandfather option was also possible.
The County Administration was recognized by the South Carolina Association of Counties for its speed in reporting claims for workers’ compensation. The county has the third fastest reporting rate, and often reports incidents within a half day. SCAC representative Robert Benfield presented the award to the council.