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Lancaster Co. council taking up impact fees during meeting; would benefit existing residents

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT
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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Anyone who lives in Lancaster County should have wanted to pay close attention to Monday night’s county council meeting.

Council voted on how they will enact impact fees within the county. That means the developers would have to pay to build in certain areas. The money would pay for things in the community.

Growth pays for growth. That is the saying Lancaster County officials use to describe impact fees. That is why people already living in the county directly benefit from the county council’s decision tonight.

Lancaster County officials say the county is growing, especially in the northern parts like Indian Land, but as County Administrator Steve Willis puts it, with growth comes the need for more infrastructure. The question is how does the county pay for it?

The county council voted to potentially charge developers fees for new construction – and use that money to pay for parks and emergency service buildings. Willis says the additional infrastructure is paid for the people who bring the need for the new infrastructure.

South Carolina law allows counties to use impact fees in order to pay for that new infrastructure. That could mean a new fire station in Van Wyck or a new sheriff’s substation in another area of the county.

Counties can be charged impact fees only for infrastructure. When it comes to operational fees like hiring firefighters or buying new equipment, everyone will have to pay.

”The benefit for existing residents is that they don’t have to pay,” explains Willis. “It’s all being paid by the new people who are driving the demand.”

The parks and recreation impact fees, which was postponed until the June 28 meeting, would cover six areas north of the city of Lancaster. These areas are determined by the fire districts.

Willis says it was going to be the same for the public safety fees that cover fire, police and EMS. However, he says county council is looking to make a motion to jump from six to three areas—Indian Land, Pleasant Valley and Van Wyck.

The EMS, Fire, and Law Enforcement fees were sent back to staff and the consultant to amend the fee area to be just the northernmost fire districts – Pleasant Valley, Indian Land, and Van Wyck.

Willis did not know why this decision was made. He says if the county council does decide to shrink the area we might not a second vote on the emergency services impact fee until late May or early June.

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