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The York County Council pledged its support Monday night for granting tax incentives to a company that promises to create more than 400 jobs and millions of dollars in local investments.
The company, code named “Project Orange” to protect its identity, is considering building a manufacturing and customer service center in York County at an undisclosed location, according to a resolution approved by the council.
The project is expected to create $60.1 million in investments and result in the “direct or indirect creation of approximately 416 new, full-time jobs.”
Counting part-time and seasonal jobs, that number would surpass 600, said Mark Farris, York County’s economic development director.
In exchange, the county will give the company various tax breaks and help pay to extend a road, according to the resolution, which isn’t a formal contract, but a pledge indicating the county’s commitment to providing the incentives.
Offering tax incentives is one way economic development officials try to attract businesses to York County.
While the deal isn’t done, Farris said, it’s one of several the county hopes to announce in coming months that could amount to more than 1,000 new jobs.
The council gave the green light to economic development officials to seek grants totaling more than $1 million to help pay for water and sewer lines. The council also approved accepting $250,000 for a road project for a medical laboratory project that would employ about 340 people. The company is considering a 12-acre site in the Riverwalk development.
Sign rules under revision
Changes to the county’s sign law that would allow business owners to display temporary signs without a permit will get a second look after pushback Monday night.
The proposed changes, up for final approval Monday, would have allowed property owners to put up two temporary signs without having to request a permit. The signs could be up to 16 square feet each.
Chairman Britt Blackwell said he asked the county planning department to put together the proposal after hearing from a business owner who wanted to display signs advertising services.
The county allows for some temporary signs, such as those advertising grand openings, but the business owner must get a permit, county planning director Dave Pettine said.
The changes would allow, for example, an auto shop to advertise oil changes without getting a permit as long as the signs aren’t up permanently and meet the size requirement, he said.
Lake Wylie resident Don Long spoke against the changes, saying he was concerned about the 16-square-foot maximum, which he said would allow an influx of large signs and create “an ugly wall of trash” on both sides of the road.
The county’s all-volunteer planning commission also rejected the changes, warning of a “proliferation of visual clutter” on the roads, Pettine said.
Blackwell asked whether considering a smaller allowance for the size of the signs might be a better way to go.
Pettine said the county polices violations on a complaint basis, and signs aren’t a top priority. Illegal mobile homes and people burning trash illegally are more serious code violations, he said.
The council voted to defer a final vote until some of the concerns could be addressed.
After the meeting, Pettine said his department will meet with the county’s zoning and planning commissions to consider the type of sign that might be acceptable.
Raises for Baker, Kendree
The council voted 4-2 to give County Manager Jim Baker and County Attorney Michael Kendree raises of 3 percent, following suit with merit raises the council gave all county employees in its 2012-2013 budget.
Based on Baker’s annual salary of about $160,000, his raise will be $4,800. Based on Kendree’s annual salary of about $130,000, his raise will be $3,900.
Blackwell and councilmen Chad Williams, Bump Roddey and David Bowman voted for the raises. Councilmen Curwood Chappell and Bruce Henderson voted against the raises. Councilman Eric Winstead wasn’t present.
Blackwell read a statement acknowledging Baker and Kendree’s hard work, while Chappell called it a “disgrace” to tax York County residents to “give my two rich friends money that they can do without.”