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Online Only: KCC may support DNR Liberty Hill tract purchase

Also, inducement resolution for $80 million ‘Project Aurora’ on agenda

Posted: October 12, 2015 8:06 p.m.
Updated: October 13, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Tonight, Kershaw County Council will consider approving a resolution regarding the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) pending acquisition of approximately 1,829 acres worth of property adjacent to Lake Wateree and the Wateree River from The Conservation Fund. Most of the property -- more than 1,500 acres -- is in Kershaw County and has been known as the Liberty Hill Tract. In a letter to the county, DNR officials said the agency is purchasing the property from The Conservation Fund for $5.613 million and plans to use the agency’s Heritage Land Trust Fund, State Conservation Bank, U.S. Forest Service and Duke Energy as sources of funding.

“After the property is acquired, it will be open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, viewing wildlife and enjoying nature,” DNR officials said in the letter. “It will be managed as part of DNR’s Liberty Hill WMA (Wildlife Management Area). Besides recreational value, the property will provide an economic benefit.”

Through tonight’s proposed resolution, council would issue a letter of support of DNR’s purchase of the property. The property, once known as Liberty Hill Farms, is part of 3,500 acres The Conservation Fund purchased from Greenwood Communities and Resorts Inc. in late 2013. In 2006, Greenwood announced it would develop the large tract of land into low density community of 15- to 20-acre home sites. Just four years later, as the economy declined, Greenwood announced it was putting up the entire 3,500-acre site for sale at $5,000 per acre, or $17.5 million. It also said it was willing to sell the land in seven tracts of between 217 to 854 acres each, ranging between $2 million and $3.6 million each.

Greenwood originally purchased the property from Crescent Resources for more than $9 million.

Kershaw County purchased a 122-acre parcel of the Greenwood Tract from Greenwood in 2008 for $946,000, to be used as a “primitive park.” In addition, the county agreed to improve Wildlife Road, a common access for both the proposed park and Greenwood’s development. Approximately $516,000 worth of agreed improvements originally included repairing a bridge condemned by the S.C. Department of Transportation.

The bridge was, ultimately, torn down and replaced, but without Greenwood’s development, the county could not move forward with the proposed park.

During tonight’s meeting, the county will learn about a separate letter of support for DNR’s purchase of land it already leases from Duke Energy for its Lake Wateree enforcement office at 1722 Holly Trail off Ridgeway Road in Kershaw County. DNR, which maintains a block house, storage and boats sheds and a private boat landing at the site, is purchasing the property for $135,000.

Also on tonight’s agenda is council’s consideration of another resolution which would create certain incentives to hopefully induce a company to establish manufacturing and related facilities in the county. For the moment, the company is only being identified as “Project Aurora,” which would invest approximately $80 million and create approximately 20 new full-time jobs in Kershaw County.

A separate ordinance authorizing a fee in lieu of taxes (FILOT) agreement with the unnamed company will be considered for first reading by title only during Tuesday’s meeting as well.

In other business tonight:

• There will be a public presentation updating council on Capella Healthcare and MUSC Health’s takeover of KershawHealth. Council will also consider second reading of a FILOT agreement with Kershaw Hospital LLC, Kershaw Clinics (the legal entity created by Capella and MUSC Health) based on Capella’s agreement to invest $55 million in the hospital during the first 10 of its 40-year lease agreement. According to a copy of the FILOT agreement attached to tonight’s agenda, Kershaw Hospital would make annual $925,000 payments in 2016 through 2022. The fee would then increase by 1 percent annually beginning in 2023, through the term of the 40-year lease. In addition, council will also consider an appointment to the KershawHealth Board of Trustees.

• Council will consider second reading of an ordinance which would authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to help fund economic development infrastructure projects. According to a copy of the ordinance attached to tonight’s agenda, the county expects to issue not more than $30 million worth of obligations.

• Council will receive reports on action regarding the closing of Hicks Road, and request for proposals concerning a project to extend Steeplechase Road.

• Council will consider second readings of ordinance rezoning three pieces of privately owned property in different areas of the county.

• Council will also consider an appointment to the Kershaw County Planning Commission.

 

Tonight’s meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at the Kershaw County Government Center, 515 Walnut St. in Camden, and is open to the public.

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