County aiding $75 million Nucor expansion

The 2019 Class 4A state champion Hartsville High School Lady Red Foxes softball team, with Coach Tommy Garrison and Darlington County Council vice chairman Lewis Brown. Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Nucor Corp. plans to invest $75 million in new land and equipment, and Darlington County Council voted unanimously in favor of a tax incentive package to help facilitate the company’s plans. The vote took place at council’s July 1 regular meeting.

Due to confidentiality requirements, all prior readings of Ordinance 19-10 referred to the 50-year-old steel mill as “Project Heat Wave.” The final reading of the ordinance revealed that Nucor plans to invest $75 million over five years, mostly by acquiring land and purchasing new machinery to grow their local operations. There are no new jobs associated with the expansion project at this time.

For the county’s part, Nucor will be granted a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes (FILOT) agreement, assessing the expansion at 6 percent annually for 30 years. Nucor will also receive a special source revenue credit of $25,000 a year for the first 10 years. The ordinance states that Darlington County will receive an additional $8.5 million in revenue from the FILOT over the 30-year term.

Also in the realm of industrial investment, council approved final reading of Ordinance 19-12, granting FILOT agreements to Charleston-based solar energy developer Southern Current. Last year, the company (identified in documents as “Project Dates”) announced plans to invest $340 million to build 17 solar farms around the county.

This new agreement (identifying the company only as “Project Dates 2”) covers an additional $141 million to $149 million in capital investment for six new solar farm sites, built over the next four years. The new FILOT will pay the county annual fees of $421,392 for the first 10 years. In years 11 to 30, the county will receive an annual fee of $368,494.

Third and final reading of this ordinance passed without objection.

Later, council approved a report issued by hearing examiner John Milling, clearing the way for construction of a new cell tower in the Mont Clare community.

Milling, an attorney and retired 4th Circuit Court judge, presided over a May 20 public hearing where residents of Society Hill Road voiced concerns over the tower’s proximity to their homes. The residents had previously appealed to the Planning Commission and County Council, and the hearing was set up as an opportunity for the case to be heard by a neutral party.

Milling also heard from attorneys representing American Tower, who provided evidence that their client has done all required due diligence and met all federal and local standards for the tower project. After hearing from both sides, Milling’s report indicated that American Tower’s permit should not be revoked as the company had met all their legal obligations.

Society Hill Road resident John Smithey spoke to council regarding this matter earlier in the meeting. Smithey allowed that the company had met all current applicable standards, but he questioned whether the standards are adequate or fair since they allow the new cell tower to be built alarmingly close to his home.

“I may be riding a dead horse today because your minds are probably already made up after the hearing, but what would you do if a cell phone tower was being built 450 feet from your house?” Smithey asked council members.

County attorney Jim Cox noted that if council wished to do so, they could bring the relevant building standards ordinances up for consideration.

“You would have to change the law, the regulations, to make it more stringent if you wanted to. In this case, all the terms and conditions of the law were met,” said Cox.

In other matters, council approved a bid of $244,352 from Steel Buildings of Darlington to erect a new metal building at Lake Darpo. The building will be available for citizens to rent and will be suitable to host events.

Council also approved a bid of $46,360 from Palmetto Corp. to perform full-depth patching on Vapor Road, and approved a bid of $113,800 from Land Roofing Co. to replace the roof on the Robert L. Grooms Building in Lamar.

A request from the West End Heritage Corporation for $20,000 to erect a monument in memory of Darlington Manufacturing Company employees failed after receiving no motion from any member of council.

Council approved Resolution 704, honoring the Hartsville High School Lady Red Foxes for winning the 2019 Class 4A State Softball Championship. The team attended the meeting with Coach Tommy Garrison, who praised the young women for their selfless play and dedication on the road to a perfect 29-0 season.

Author: Rachel Howell

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