DARLINGTON — The Darlington County Council gave final approval Monday to an ordinance aimed at encouraging preservation of historic properties in the county.
The measure, which received unanimous approval on third reading, will grant special property tax assessments to certain rehabilitated historic properties under a state law referred to as the Bailey Bill.
Under the Bailey Bill, the special tax assessment for designated properties and any improvements to the properties is based on the fair market value of the property during the year that preliminary certification of the rehabilitation of the property is granted the special assessment.
The purpose of the new ordinance is to encourage restoration and continued use of historic properties, promote community development and redevelopment, encourage sound community planning and promote the general health, safety and welfare of the community.
In another matter, the council approved a contract with Hartsville architect Robert H. Goodson Jr. for architectural services in the designing of a new Darlington County Museum and Historical Commission building addition.
The Darlington County Historical Commission, after seeking and interviewing three potential architects for the proposed project, selected Goodson for the contract, according to information provided by the county. The unanimous vote authorizes County Administrator Charles Stewart to execute the contract on behalf of the county.
“His (Goodson’s) experience, knowledge of this type design, understanding of historical structures, and his understanding of our vision for this project made him the logical choice,” county information states.
The new addition will be located on property owned by the county and attached to the Historical Commission building at 204 Hewitt St. in Darlington.
The contract will have no budget impact on the county, the agenda information states. The funding will come from a $4 million bequest from the estate of the late Carolyn “Bet” Phillips.
Phillips, who died on March 11, 2018 at the age of 89, made the bequest in memory of her father, Randolph McEachin Norment Sr.; her mother, Sara Cole White Norment; and her husband, Paul P. Phillips Jr.
In her last will and testament, Phillips directed that the bequest be used to construct and or maintain a suitable building to house and display historical documents and items and that it be used to help with the cost of building or maintaining such a facility.
In other business, the council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance authorizing a fee in lieu of taxes (FILOT) agreement through a multi-county business park involving Darlington County, Florence County and a private industry identified at this point only as “Project Star,” in support of a planned $5 million investment over 10 years by the company in the two counties.
The agreement would allow the company to pay a fee in lieu of regular property taxes at an agreed upon assessment rate for a period of 30 years. Typically under such agreements, the counties and other designated taxing entities share in the revenue generated by the fee based on a formula.
County Administrator Charles Stewart said he could not publicly disclose the identity of the company or details about the proposed project, but said information about the project will be released when the measure is voted on at third reading.
Council members also heard concerns from Hartsville resident George Cannon about roadside mowing by the state on Martin Luther King Drive and Russell Road in the South Hartsville area. He said children walking to and from area schools are exposed to safety and traffic hazards as they walk through the area and asked county officials to look into the issue.