Darlington County on board for Hartsville business park

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

A new business park in Hartsville will move forward with the full support of Darlington County Council.

At their Nov. 5 meeting, council voted without objection to partner with Lee County and the city of Hartsville to establish a multicounty business park in the city’s Canal District.

Comprised of around 115 properties along the Fourth Street corridor, the proposed Canal District project aims to draw more commercial tenants, including major retailers, to the area.

Working with a $2 million investment from the Hartsville Public Development Corp. and The Byerly Foundation, the city has purchased over 30 of these properties to spearhead the project, though many others are still privately owned.

Rather than levying traditional property taxes, the proposed Canal District business park will use a FILOT (Fee In Lieu of Tax) agreement to collect revenue from tenants for the first 20 years. Thereafter, the FILOT could be renewed or renegotiated.

According to Ordinance 18-11, FILOT revenues will be shared on the following schedule: for any property located in Darlington County’s portion of the park, the county will retain 99 percent of the fees and Lee County will receive the remaining 1 percent. The same formula applies to properties located in Lee County’s portion of the park. The City of Hartsville will then receive 70 percent of the residual fee revenue, less any required Darlington County tax millage.

Hartsville plans to undertake a number of infrastructure projects for the park. The ordinance included the following list:

1. Engineering, architectural, consulting and other professional services

2. Parks, green space, hardscaping, landscaping and greenway improvements

3.Infrastructure improvements including water, sewer, electric, gas, stormwater, railways, sidewalks and roadways

4. Lighting and public access improvements

5. Surface parking, garage parking, on-street parking and other parking facilities to serve the park and related areas

6. Waterway, canal, and waterworks features

7. Recreation improvements

In other matters, council authorized a phone system upgrade for the E-911 and Central Communications Department. The new system will cost $194,195, with 80 percent reimbursed by the state. The Emergency Telephone Fund will cover the $38,839 balance.

Council also authorized spending $172,490 to purchase a new boom mower for the Roads and Bridges Department, and approved $31,400 in roof repairs for two T-hangars at the Darlington County Airport.

Chief Ricky Flowers of the Darlington County Fire District spoke to council about a new program that provides first responders with a free Canary security camera so they can keep an eye on their homes while they’re on duty.

This “Protect the Protectors” program, sponsored by Canary and State Farm, provides emergency workers with an Internet-accessible HD camera equipped with night vision and two-way audio. Since 2015, the program has donated more than 6,000 Canary devices to first responders in nearly 50 communities across the United States.

Larry Frazier, public affairs specialist with the Small Business Administration, informed council and guests that the deadline to apply for low-interest loans to repair Hurricane Florence-related damage has been extended to Dec. 5. The SBA and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) are taking applications for disaster assistance at the National Guard Armory, located at 1764 Harry Byrd Highway in Darlington.

Council also heard from members of the Sunset Acres community, who asked for help with a persistent mosquito infestation.

Author: Rachel Howell

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