Anderson County Council approves Brownsfields loan

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To help with Pelzer Mill cleanup
By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Council worked through a list of ordinances Tuesday night, giving final reading to two, tabling one and striking two from the agenda to allow time for fine tuning.

One ordinance that received final passage will allow reconfiguration of the zoning advisory groups, which have had trouble assembling quorums in recent months. Another final reading established new standards for determining whether a given subdivision is experiencing problems with speeding drivers. The intent is to hone the criteria for declaring a problem, which can result in the installation of speed bumps to slow traffic.

Second reading of a rezoning ordinance was tabled at the request of both the developer and members of the community that would be affected. Both sides have been meeting and working on a compromise, and asked that they be given more time to do so. Council acceded, and tabled the matter. The minimum amount for which an annual inventory is required by the county was raised to $5000 from one thousand.

An economic incentive package to be offered to a developer in the Pendleton area drew the ire of District Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd. The package will include a fifty per cent reduction in the property taxes to be paid. The project is a bit unusual, in that it is both commercial and residential in nature. It will be a large scale apartment complex representing a thirty one million dollar investment.

Floyd questioned the county’s subsidy, as she described it, to the developer. “Let’s be honest. These aren’t low income units. This is an upscale project.” Burriss Nelson, county director of economic development, explained that the seven acre tract, located near downtown Pendleton, generated $12,500 in property taxes last year. In 2021, presumably once the project is complete, that amount will increase to $820,000 per year or $8.2 million over the following decade.

Councilman Brett Sanders, whose district includes Pendleton, iterated that it is very unlikely that any other enterprise that would occupy only seven acres would generate such revenue. He and Nelson conceded that the potential renters will be those with good paying jobs, and pointed out that the area’s booming economy makes such housing desirable and in demand.

The incentive package was approved by a 6-1 vote, with Floyd opposed.

Closer to home, Council unanimously approved seeking a loan from the Brownsfields Revolving Loan Fund, which provides funds for the cleanup of toxic mill sites. The fund is administered by the Catawba Regional COG. The interest rate is one per cent, and the funds will be used for cleanup efforts at the Pelzer and Toxaway mill sites.