Hartsville okays restaurant incentives, advances Sunday alcohol vote

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

Hartsville City Council convened their regular monthly meeting on February 9 and granted approval to an incentive package for a new restaurant planning to locate downtown.

Council voted 7 to 1 to approve second and final reading of Ordinance 4232, authorizing several incentives – including rebates of building permits, hospitality taxes, business license fees and tap fees totaling an estimated $32,577 over five years – to LighterSide, Inc. owners and developers Catrina and John Penny.

Mayor Mel Pennington cast the only “nay” vote.

The city’s incentive ordinance states that any business investing a minimum of $1 million to open a business in Hartsville’s designated “incentive zone” qualifies for these rebates and benefits. A business can reach that $1 million threshold through a combination of actual real estate investment and job credits that allow $50,000 for each new job that business brings to town.

In good faith estimates, the Pennys told council that they would invest $721,000 in real estate and upfit to transform the old Quality Hardware building into an eatery. Additionally, they plan to hire 27 people – 12 full time and 15 part time – to staff the restaurant. These two estimates bring their total investment to $1.35 million, putting them well over the qualifying threshold.

During the Jan. 12 first reading of Ordinance 4232, council considered holding up the incentives for the Pennys while council’s finance committee reviewed the original incentive ordinance – specifically, provisions granting the same credits for part-time and full time positions. Ultimately, council agreed that the Pennys had met all stated benchmarks for qualification and their incentives should not be held up or negated while council debates amending the ordinance for future applicants.

Council granted first reading approval to Ordinance 4236, calling for a referendum to determine whether the SC Department of Revenue may issue temporary (24-hour) permits to sell alcoholic liquors for on-premises consumption, and beer and wine for off-premises consumption, without regard to days or hours of sale. Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Andrews made a motion to approve and council member Teresa Mack provided a second; the measure passed by a vote of 7 to 1, with council member William Shirley voting against.

In other matters, council approved final reading of Ordinance 4227, leasing property at 149 West Carolina Avenue to the Darlington County Humane Society for $500 monthly, where the Humane Society will operate an upscale resale shop as a fundraising vehicle.

Council also approved final reading of Ordinance 4228, authorizing a licensing agreement between Hartsville and Duke Energy for the installation of surveillance cameras on Duke-owned utility poles. Locations for these cameras are yet to be determined, but the ordinance states they would be used for traffic monitoring and public safety reasons.

Author: Duane Childers

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