Utility bonds, subdivision approval highlight Council work

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMarch 19, 2013 

— Fort Mill is preparing for utility upgrades and more residents following moves Monday.

The town passed first reading Monday on an ordinance allowing for the issue and sale of waterworks and sewer system improvement revenue bonds. A $1.15 million nontaxable bond will go toward costs encountered with construction of the Fort Mill Southern Bypass and the town’s share of a sewer line there. A $250,000 taxable bond also is for the bypass and sewer system engineering costs.

Taxable and nontaxable bonds differ based on whether the interest collected by the lender is subject to income taxes. Nontaxable bonds may be interest free.

“These types of bonds generally have lower interest rates than taxable bonds,” said Joe Cronin, assistant town manager and planning director. “Nontaxable bonds benefit the town by offering lower debt repayment costs, which in turn reduces the impact to our customers.”

The council also finalized a rezoning for Riverchase, a residential subdivision between Doby’s Bridge Road and the Catawba River, near the existing Beckenham neighborhood.

In 2008, a plan was approved for 186 homes. The new zoning allows for 250 homes and trail space along the river to connect with the Carolina Thread Trail. Eight lots will be given to the town for municipal, public service use.

A public hearing and the second reading Monday didn’t draw opposition or concerns. In passing first reading in February, council members said the density change wasn’t significant enough to impact the land use in that area.

Mayor Danny Funderburk said the “slight adjustment” in density will allow for “a more intelligent use of that property.”

Developers on hand Monday said they would include sidewalks where required by building code, and that “green” building practices at Riverchase would well exceed what’s currently required.

Some other decisions made by the council include:

• Kevin Madden, partner with accounting firm Greene, Finney & Horton, gave Council a “very uneventful” update on the town’s financial audit, “which is a good thing.” Madden’s group granted the town an unqualified opinion.

“That’s the best you can receive,” he said.

• Lisa McCarley with Keep Our Schools Strong presented a detailed look at the April 30 bond referendum for the Fort Mill School District. Voters will decide on a roughly $54 million plan that would expand both district high schools, create a new Riverview Elementary School, install turf on athletic fields and improve district-wide technology and safety.

Council didn’t formally take up the issue, though several members expressed personal support of the plan. Possible partnerships between the schools and town could come from the planned improvements, particularly with shared space for recreation.

• The town passed first reading to update zoning ordinances with state and local standards. Needed changes are “minor housekeeping” issues, according to the staff recommendation. Issues addressed include public notices prior to town hearings and amendments to the official town zoning map.

• Council passed a resolution designating Walter Y. Elisha Park as the site of this spring’s South Carolina Strawberry Festival, and allowing for alcohol and live music permits. The move is needed each year to allow those features of the festival.

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