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When you build in Clinton, you pay a fee for the impact that has on the city

City Council approves the first-ever Impact Fees to pay for police, fire, recreation effects from development


Clinton City Council has adopted its first-ever Impact Fees, designed to mitigate the effect more houses and businesses will have on Fire, Police, and Recreation.

Such fees are common in fast-growing areas of South Carolina, where especially residential development is out-stripping the ability of cities and counties to build and equip more fire stations and hire and train more police.

In Clinton, the fee money also goes to recreation. Also Monday, the city council agreed to spend the $5 Million it has on-hand to build a baseball “star” at the city’s long-awaited recreation center on Hwy 56, going out toward I-26, Phase 1.

No developers expressed any concern about the fees, as the ordinance went through the second of two required readings. It is now part of Clinton’s city code.

Normally, public hearings accompany second readings, but none of the ordinance readings had public hearings at the March 4 regular monthly meeting (sometimes these hearings are before the planning commission, ie impact fees, annexation).

The new fees presumably will not be assessed to development already underway, like the DR Horton housing development near Eastside Elementary School and a growing housing area on Charlottes Road. In the DR Horton case, the city is building utility connections from the city center out East Main Street to an area once envisioned for a light-industry complex. Also, the City is footing the bill for a major renovation of the former North Broad Street city hall which is the Police and Fire Station, with Fire administration moving to the next-door Community Building and Police administration right now in the MS Bailey Municipal Center.

The idea behind Impact Fees is to shift that burden; the ordinance says, in part:

“Consistent with the Impact Fee Act, the City has implemented a Comprehensive Plan, and such a plan was most recently updated and approved by the City Council in October of 2018.

“The City has experienced rapid population growth and development, and Council recognizes the projections indicate that growth will continue at a rapid rate into the future.

“To the extent that future growth and new construction in the City places increased demand on fire facilities … police facilities …. and parks and recreation facilities …, those demands and needs should be met by shifting a portion of the capital costs for the increased capacity of the Facilities, in whole or in part, to such new development.”

A person who builds houses will pay per unit $1,951 fire, $850 police, and $1,950 recreation fees, in addition to all other fees, utility connections and taxes.

A person who builds a commercial building will pay $3,448 fire and $1,502 police fees, in addition to all other fees, utility connections, business license and taxes.

In another matter receiving second and final reading, Council gave city-owned property to the Clinton Economic Development Corporation for marketing, minus the Museum.

That is a change from first reading.

Charlotte Slice spoke to council about the fact that people donated money and artifacts for a museum and the city spent hospitality and accommodations tax money on a museum that subsequently was closed by a city manager’s instruction.

“Do we really want to be one of the few cities without a general interest museum?” she said.

Mayor Randy Randall said the change from first reading to second reading was made because a museum is not economic development, like the kind marketed by the CEDC, and is more a quality of life issue.

City Manager Tom Brooks said the Museum site (beside Broad Street United Methodist Church) cannot be a museum without substantial cost for handicapped accessibility and structural renovations.

Still, Council decided to continue engagement with citizens interested in having a museum about the effort moving forward. 

It was not clear from Council’s discussion what happens to the money when CEDC sells a piece of city-owned property.

The transfer ordinance identifies the affected properties, including much of the former Whitten Center site transferred by the State to the City for future development, a lot behind the QT convenience store at I-26, and lots that have come into the city’s possession by purchase or condemnation.

Brooks emphasized that the CEDC board is comprised of himself and three council members (so council has some say-so in sales) and community leaders in business, banking and infrastructure.

With second and final reading passed, the ordinance shifting possession of these properties goes into effect.