ST. GEORGE -- Dorchester County Council has passed -- again -- first reading on a plan to charge impact fees in the lower part of the county to pay for new roads.
The 5-2 vote Monday night followed a 5-2 vote in July to do the same thing. It put off until Sept. 20 a public hearing on the controversial fees. That means the hearing will be in Summerville, where the fees would be charged.
Councilmen Chris Murphy and Bill Hearn voted against, as they did in July. Murphy had protested then that the hearing would be in St. George. Council switches the meeting locations each month.
The July vote had to be thrown out because an obscure clause in state law requires the county planning commission to recommend the fees by resolution, said John Frampton, county attorney. The commission had recommended the fees, but not by resolution.
The July vote came in front of large, divided crowd and after an hourlong public comment period.
Impact fees are a per-building charge on all new construction in the tax district where the fees are levied. They have become a contentious issue in the county, where attempts to impose them have been opposed by home-building and real estate interests.
Supporters say it's only fair for new residents and businesses to pay for the services and infrastructure that must be built to support them. Opponents say the fees are an unfair tax because only some people pay it; they also say the fees would hamper the recovery of their business, in turn slowing the region's economic recovery.
Some county officials say the road-improvement fees are needed because state funding and sales tax revenue have fallen off, leaving the county road-building effort more than $100 million short on projects it already has committed to.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.