Berkeley county impact fee is hurting business in the county - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Berkeley county impact fee is hurting business in the county

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A local small business owner contacted News 2 to find out why a fee is keeping them from being in business.  

Julie Grier used to run a thrift store on Ladson road, "we opened up the thrift store in July of 2011."

Grier decided to move her Angel Haven Thrift Store to a new location on College Park Road because the rent was considerably less, "and it was a way to help people in need. My husband and I were foster parents, and I worked in a nursing home for awhile."

They used the store to make money, but also to donate to those in need. The only problem was, their new location is in Berkeley County. See, the county says she needed to pay an impact fee before she could open for business, "they were going to charge me a $6,000 impact fee, and I just didn't have that money."

So Julie decided to close the thrift store.

We took Julie's concerns about the impact fees to Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis. Davis says he agrees that the fee is bad for business, "we found that the impact fee is a deterrent to business. And I think everybody agrees with that."

Back in 2006, the county passed the impact fees. The fee is paid based on how much additional traffic the property is expected to bring to the area. But the county also agreed to use the money as the local matching funds for the Sheep Island interchange work that is planned on I-26. That project was done ironically, to attract new business to the county.

Supervisor Davis says the county cannot eliminate the impact fees unless it replaces the money, "we actually proposed legislation a couple of years ago to allow us to have a renewed vote on the penny sales tax referendum for our roads, and if we are able to do that, then we plan to replace this impact fee with those dollars."

Without  legislation, the county has to wait until 2015 to pass a referendum.

Julie says that while that is a good move, it will be too late for businesses like hers, "the small business person, which everybody says they want, isn't going to be able to come here until they get that changes."

Supervisor Davis says all of the Berkeley County delegation supports the legislation to allow an earlier referendum vote, but he is not sure if or when it could be passed into law in Columbia.

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