Indian Land, Lancaster County SC new home impact fee details

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Development in Indian Land. A view of US 521 looking north Friday afternoon. The North Carolina state line is in the top of the frame.

Details are in on the latest plan for Indian Land impact fees.

The county planning commission will take a look Nov. 17 at a study prepared by the firm TischlerBise. The plan details potential new charges to fund recreation, fire protection, law enforcement and emergency response service in the fastest-growing part of Lancaster County.

Here’s what to know about the new fees:

What’s an impact fee?

Impact fees are charges on new construction. Builders or developers typically pay them when they get construction permits. New homeowners don’t directly pay fees, but can pay for them through higher home prices.

Impact fees are determined by math on how much it should cost to provide a home or business with public services. More people means more need for park space, fire protection, law enforcement and emergency response. South Carolina law mandates a study to show impact fees only charge the fair share new property owners must pay.

Who gets charged?

New impact fees would impact the panhandle area of Indian Land. A prior impact fee study in Lancaster County limited the area to the three northernmost fire districts — Pleasant Valley, Indian Land and Charlotte Road. The current study expands that area to include the Riverside, Shiloh Zion and Camp Creek districts.

The charge for recreation impacts only new homes and apartments. The idea is, residents create need for park space and programming. A new store or business park, separate from those residents, doesn’t.

Charges for fire protection, law enforcement and emergency services would apply both to new residential and commercial construction. A strip mall, supermarket or industrial warehouse creates need for emergency services, the thought goes, just like an apartment complex or new home subdivision would.

How much will it cost?

That state-mandated study requires math to show what the maximum charge could be for various services. Communities can, and often do, choose to charge less than what their studies show. A lesser charge can reduce costs on certain construction, like new business. Or it can help prevent legal challenges to the impact fees.

The TischlerBise study found the maximum charge on a new home could be $2,180. An attached home could be $1,852, and each apartment $1,548. Those amounts combine all four fee categories.

Nonresidential construction involves just fire protection, law enforcement and emergency response charges. Charges for new commercial construction is by the square foot. A retail store could pay up to $1,708 per 1,000 square feet. A warehouse could pay as much as $104 per 1,000 square feet.

Charges in the Pleasant Valley fire district are a little less, about $100, across the board.

Why do we need impact fees?

Indian Land is, by most any indicator in recent years, a high-growth area. There are almost 49,000 people living in the panhandle.

The TischlerBise study used county planning department data. It found an estimated 10,742 homes and 1,728 apartments will be built in the next six years. In 10 years there will be 14,371 homes and 2,807 apartments, per projections. It’s an 83% jump.

Projected is a corresponding 82% increase in trips driven on area roads.

By 2030, projections put the panhandle area at just shy of 90,000 residents. That number is roughly the current populations or Rock Hill, Lancaster and Chester combined.

New offices in the next three years will add a projected 2,500 jobs. A new hospital will add 400 more. Overall employment could grow by 34% in the coming decade, with 2.6 million more square feed of nonresidential space. The office projection alone is more than 1 million new square feet.

Is it just Lancaster County?

Impact fees are somewhat common in high-growth areas. Several counties and municipalities along the coast have them. The Fort Mill School District has one on residences there. Rock Hill, Fort Mill and Tega Cay have municipal fees. New fees also have been implemented or discussed in recent years in Lancaster and Chester counties.

There has been some push back. When York County approved an increase for the Fort Mill school district fee, state and local homebuilder groups challenged the increases in court. Early legal decisions went the way of the county and district, but they remain under appeal.

Do I get a say?

The county planning commission will meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 17. The county encourages people who want to comment on agenda items to submit them online by emailing [email protected] or through the “Citizens Comments” link on the county website mylancastersc.org.

After the planning commission reviews the impact fee plan, it will go to Lancaster County Council for three required readings. A public hearing will be scheduled there, too.

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John Marks graduated from Furman University in 2004 and joined the Herald in 2005. He covers community growth, municipalities, transportation and education mainly in York County and Lancaster County. The Fort Mill native earned dozens of South Carolina Press Association awards and multiple McClatchy President’s Awards for news coverage in Fort Mill and Lake Wylie.
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