Facelift for Lexington County industrial site promoted

10/10/2012 12:00 AM

10/09/2012 7:19 PM

Batesburg-Leesville leaders pressed Lexington County officials Tuesday for improvements to make a 176-acre tract in their town more attractive to manufacturers looking for a new home.

It’s time to add roads and sewage so the site no longer is “sitting there and doing nothing,” Mayor James Wiszowaty told Lexington County Council members.

The county bought the tract around the year 2000 with plans to attract companies to the site and then add roads and sewage lines.

But after more than a decade, county and town leaders are looking at adding roads and sewage at the site in the town of 5,400 residents as a way to attract manufacturers.

It would be a $2.7 million investment without knowing when the pay-off is coming. But it’s necessary since businesses want sites “shovel-ready” so they can build facilities quickly, Wiszowaty said.

The site is off the beaten path, 10 miles north of I-20 in the rural western edge of the county. So far, only one company, Fischer Tank, has located there. There are 13 empty tracts still available.

County officials could include roads for the site in a package of projects that would be paid by property taxes that may be as much as $8 a year on a $100,000 home.

“We’ve got to decide if it’s in or out,” council chairman Bill Banning of West Columbia told town officials.

The plan is running into resistance.

County Councilman Jim Kinard of Swansea is reluctant to add features at a site that has attracted little interest.

“I’m not quite on board yet,” he said. “It’s my last choice. There doesn’t seem to be any imminent need.”

Town Councilman Steve Cain wants to make sure the sewage expansion for which Town Hall is responsible doesn’t mean higher utility bills.

“We’re in the same boat on that,” Wiszowaty said.

He hopes to obtain federal and state aid to pay for the project if county leaders agree to proceed with installation of roads at the tract.

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