Rezoning vote paves way for new apartments
After swearing in three new members, the Williston Town Council got down to business by approving a rezoning request and amending the business license ordinance.
Incumbent Eric Moody and newcomers Kurt Odermatt and Annie Smalls Tyler were sworn in on Jan. 8 shortly before the regular monthly meeting began. A reception was held in their honor prior to the swearing-in and meeting.
Council unanimously approved a nomination for Brett Williams to serve another two-year term as mayor pro-tem. Williams has served in the position for the past four years.
Business License Codes
A majority of the meeting was spent discussing Ordinance 2018-02, which amends the business license ordinance to change from SIC codes to NAICS codes.
While the town has used SIC codes for decades when assessing how to charge for business licenses of businesses within the town limits, this coding system is antiquated.
“The SIC does not update its codes and the NAICS does. As a result, most cities, towns and other organizations have moved away from using SIC and have adopted NAICS,” said Town Administrator Kenny Cook in a memo to council.
If the town doesn’t update to NAICS codes, there is a concern the town could be at risk of lawsuits over inaccurate assessments of business license fees. “For example, this could result from a contractor purchasing a business license from us that may vary considerably from the same license they purchase from another jurisdiction. We need to be uniform,” said Cook in his memo..
On the other hand, NAICS codes are “very balanced, very equitable and very mathematical,” said Melissa Carter, the research and legislative liaison from the Municipal Association of South Carolina, during the meeting.
Town officials and Carter have worked closely to make sure the change is revenue neutral. Carter presented a fee structure that updates all current business licenses. Business licenses currently bring in $52,016 but the new fee structure would equal $52,487 in revenue for the town, according to documents.
Council unanimously approved first reading to change to the NAICS classification system and the recommended fee structure. The ordinance still needs one more reading.
Council also approved the second and final reading of an ordinance to rezone four lots from Core Commercial to Residential 5.
Alabama-based Trustmark Construction wants to build a 32- to 38-unit middle-income apartment complex on the 3.75 acres, which is located to the left of the shopping center containing Subway between Main and Dicks streets.
At last month’s council meeting, Williston resident Gwen Jenkins expressed concern over the rezoning request, saying she opposed low-income housing being built next to her Dicks Street property. However, Cook assured her that the project is not subsidized or Section 8 housing.
During the January meeting, Councilman Odermatt also asked whether this would be low-income housing.
“It’s designed for people who have means to pay,” said Cook, who last month cited how the apartments would be ideal for younger families, seniors and people such as first-year teachers who need housing. However, he acknowledged that the Fair Housing Law requires anyone renting property to accept vouchers from tenants.
Council approved the second and final reading but Councilman Williams voted against the rezoning request.
“We believe if this project comes to fruition it would be a win-win for the community,” said Cook, citing how it would increase the downtown population, produce $25,000 a year in additional water and sewer fees, and generate additional property taxes and business license fees.