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County Council. September 22

Council mulls changes to Harbor View Road plan
Some big changes likely in boundaries of some voting districts

Warwick Jones

The presentation given by Deputy Administrator Taylor to the Finance Committee yesterday was thorough and polite. He was addressing the Committee over the changes proposed by Council member Qualey to the Harbor View Road plan. But we thought there was a slight note of irritation too. And who would argue about its justification? We think Mr. Taylor would liked to have said the Harbor View Road plan was determined after many public hearings. It was shaped with the view of the public and the blessings of a number of agencies including the SC Department of Transportation. In consequence of this, Right of Way (ROW) by condemnation has been secured along the roadway to accommodate the proposed changes. Utilities have drawn up their plans too. And now Councilmember Qualey has yet another meeting with residents, and wants to change the plans. And what a mess it will be at this late stage!

We did not attempt to get the details of the changes but it would include the reduction of the width of the road and pavement, modification of bike paths and turning lanes.

If the Committee were to approve Council member Qualey’s Plan, staff suggested that it undertake the following steps.

  1. Perform an environmental review under SCDOT and FHWA approval.
  2. Revise roadway and drainage plans.
  3. Request approval from the City of Charleston and SC DOT of the revised plans.
  4. Request the affected utilities to revise their original plans.
  5. Perform ROW acquisition based on the new plans.
  6. Request a modification of the existing wetland permits from the Corps of the Army Engineers.

Committee members were concerned about the cost of the new plan. But Staff declined to make an estimate because so much was unknown. The actual construction cost could be less than that estimated for the original plan, it seems. But there would be extra engineering and design costs. It is also possible that some of the agencies and the City of Charleston would press for a reimbursement of costs that that have met relating to the original plan.

The original Harbor View Road plan was projected to cost $13 million. To date about $3.6 million has been spent. Drawing on the comments of staff and Council members, Chairman Pryor opined that the cost of making the proposed changes would be about $1 million.

The Committee instructed staff to further study the proposed changes and to seek the view of the SCDOT.

Incentives for new investments approved
The Committee approved two recommendations by the Economic Development Department to support investments in manufacturing facilities in the County. The most important related to TIGHITCO, a subsidiary of Inter Tech. The company plans a $14.5 million investment in manufacturing facilities in North Charleston and will be a supplier to Boeing. According to the agenda material, the company will employ 300 with a payroll of $9 million. The incentives will be a reduction in the property assessment rate from 10% to 6% and a millage rate frozen for 20 years at the present rate (Fees in lieu of taxes (FILOT)). The company will also receive a “rebate” each year equal to 30% of the fees paid, and a $50,000 grant from the County’s Economic Development Fund.

The second recommendation related to Titan Atlas, which makes housing from concrete panels. It is planning to expand its plant in North Charleston with an investment of $6.7 million. Within a 5 year period, the investment is expected generate employment of 200 and a payroll of $6.4 million. The FILOT arrangement is similar to that of TIGHITCO. The investment will be assessed at a 6% rate as opposed to 10%, and over the next 20 years the millage rate will be frozen at the present level. Subject to achieving certain hiring levels in years two and five, the company is eligible to be “rebated” the equivalent of 14% of it FILOT each year. It will not receive any grant from the County.

Some big changes likely in some voting district boundaries
The County is about to start the redistricting process in the light of the recent census and in preparation for the elections scheduled for November next year.

Staff told the Committee last night that the new average district population was 39,000. However there were obviously variations within the districts and adjustments were needed. The law says that the difference in any district can vary no more than 10% from the average. But staff and Council are aiming for a much lower variance. The district of Council member Sass is conspicuously in need of a reduction in population count. The count needs to be increased in the districts of Council members Darby, Pryor and Condon.

The districts of Council member Darby and Chairman Pryor as presently defined have majority black populations – 52.3% and 56.9% respectively. Redefining the boundaries to increase the population count is likely to decrease the proportion of blacks though perhaps not significantly below the 50% level. Viewers can draw their own conclusion by referring to the census figures by pressing Download file( Sorry, you will need to rotate the document)

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