Hartsville okays restaurant incentives

Violinist TeQuan Coe (center) receives a proclamation from Hartsville City Council recognizing his opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall. Photo by Samantha Lyles

Violinist TeQuan Coe (center) receives a proclamation from Hartsville City Council recognizing his opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall.
Photo by Samantha Lyles

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

Hartsville City Council convened their regular monthly meeting January 12 and, despite a few disagreements, voted to approve incentives for a new restaurant planning to locate downtown.

In approving first reading of Ordinance 4232, council advanced the authorization of 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.

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.

Still, Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Andrews moved to table approval of their incentives application, citing a need for clarity in the job credits portion of the ordinance (whether part time jobs should count the same as full time positions). Andrews asked that the incentives ordinance be sent to the finance committee for review.

Council member Bernice Wilson took exception to the proposed delay, noting that the Pennys had complied with the ordinance as written and they should not be penalized or delayed while the city deliberates on legal language.

Mayor Mel Pennington cited the tendency of existing businesses to express displeasure to city officials over these incentives benefits, which only apply to newcomers and not to older businesses that might seek to invest in a remodel or expand their workforce.
Ultimately, council voted 7 to 1 to approve first reading on the LighterSide incentives, with Pennington casting the lone “no” vote.

Council also approved a $260,000 lease to purchase a commercial garbage truck to replace the city’s current truck, which is frequently out of service due to mechanical issues.
A $54,000 contract to build a single stall restroom at Pride Park and Burry Park was approved, with the winning bid submitted by Dempsey Construction of Hartsville.

Council and mayor also took a moment to congratulate Hartsville violinist TeQuan Coe, whose talents have secured him an opportunity to perform with the Honors Symphony Orchestra at legendary New York concert venue Carnegie Hall. Coe holds the violin first chair with the Hartsville High Orchestra, and he is currently raising funds for his trip, which is planned for the first week of February.

Author: Jana Pye

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