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County Council

East Edisto project agreement close to conclusion
No discussion or light on Naval Hospital contract
Warwick Jones

There were a number of items of importance on yesterday’s agendas, but in a sense, little that was newsworthy or can be reported on.

A presentation was given by Westrock (nee Mead Westvaco) on the East Edisto Development. An agreement with the County on future development is close to completion and should be completed by the beginning of next year. Although there have been some changes in the wording and zoning in the agreement, the development planned remains essentially the same as that envisioned 5 years or so ago. Originally some 31,000 acres were to fall under the agreement. But as already reported, about 16,800 acres have been taken out and placed under deed restrictions. The remaining 14,800 acres will be subject to a Development of County Significance and will entail commercial, industrial and residential development over a period that could extend to 50 years.

Westrock anticipates that initial development will be within the area set aside for industrial and commercial use and that work could begin within 6 months of final agreement.

And there were the two projects, Gary and Thor, whose principals remain nameless. They are requesting financial incentives to make investments in the community. We have no idea as to their identities or plans. But requests for financial incentives are commonplace and usually comes in the form of Fees in Lieu of Taxes (FILOT) programs, essentially lowering the property tax burdens on manufacturing companies. Boeing and Daimler Benz have been the most conspicuous recipients of FILOT programs in recent years.

And as the Post and Courier pointed out in a story earlier this week, there are issues between the County and Chicora Life Center LLC over progress with the development of the old Naval Hospital.

The site and building were purchased by the LLC from North Charleston for $5 million over a year ago. The County agreed to a long term lease of the building so it could relocate a number of medical and social services.

As the P&C pointed out, the lease allowed the LLC to borrow some $10.9 million to finance the purchase and to undertake renovations to house the County’s services. But it seems that LLC needs more money than anticipated to complete renovation and is asking the County for financing. The article went on to indicate that some Council members were unhappy at the progress made, or the performance of the LLC. There was also the claim that the LLC owed considerable money to subcontractors and an inference that the LLC would not be able to fulfil its agreement with the County.

There is usually two sides to every story and we hoped to hear both sides’ last night. It was not to be. Discussion was held in executive session and no decision was made except to have legal report on the situation.

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