Fort Mill Times

Want $15,000 off on a new Fort Mill or Tega Cay home? Better act fast.

If the county finalizes new fees July 16, county planners will need residential permits reviewed and approved by that date for them to charge the current $2,500. Builders or developers would need to submit their permit applications by July 11 at noon to get the current rate.
If the county finalizes new fees July 16, county planners will need residential permits reviewed and approved by that date for them to charge the current $2,500. Builders or developers would need to submit their permit applications by July 11 at noon to get the current rate. Fort Mill Times file

It's not exactly saving $15,000 on a new home, but the math works out the same.

At least if folks act now.

With York County Council having given initial approval for a more than $15,000 increase to the development impact fee charged on new homes in the Fort Mill school district, the county is preparing for what to do if and when it passes.

"Planning and development are prepared to handle permit requests," said Trish Startup, county spokesperson.

Council voted in favor of the higher fees June 27. The final vote on increasing school impact fees comes July 16.

Initially, the change impacts builders, since they pay the per residence fees — the proposed increases put them at more than $18,000 per home and $12,000 per apartment — when they have their building permit issued. Eventually the change makes its way to homeowners through increased sales prices.

If the county finalizes the new fees July 16, county planners will need residential permits reviewed and approved by that date for them to charge the current $2,500. Builders or developers would need to submit their permit applications by July 11 at noon to get the current rate.

Planners aren't expecting an onslaught of permit applications trying to beat the deadline.

"Planning and development does not have any indication that there will be a rush, flood of permit requests," Startup said.

Along with unincorporated parts of York County within the school district, the fee increase also would impact homes in Fort Mill town limits and Tega Cay city limits.

Chris Pettit, planning director in Fort Mill, said without a final decision by the county on the fee amount, he wouldn't know whether to expect a surge in permits. Fort Mill is likelier to have new permits come in the next couple of weeks than Tega Cay not because of the fee, but because it's larger and has numerous subdivisions already approved.

Typically permit requests for larger subdivisions come in over months and sometimes years as build-out progresses and market demands fluctuate. Some of the largest subdivisions take 10 or 20 years to build fully, with permits coming throughout that time.

"Everything's pretty much consistent," Pettit said. "The larger subdivisions obviously have more permits. We have subdivisions in all stages."

Much of the residential growth in Tega Cay, elected leaders have said in recent months, already has happened. But there are still new homes to be built. Compounding the impact fee issue in Tega Cay is a separate city study on starting up its own fee.

"We are anticipating having ours in place by late August, if (Tega Cay City Council) adopts the fee," said Charlie Funderburk, city manager. "We are anticipating they are going to do so based on prior conversations."

That effort of late hasn't overwhelmed Tega Cay planners.

"We have had a few more than normal," Funderburk said of permit requests, "but not a significant increase at this point. We also have not made the decision as of yet whether the impact fee, if approved, will be required to be paid prior to permit issuance or prior to certificate of occupancy."

If Fort Mill's past is any indication, municipalities should expect more of the consistency they're reporting now.

The town of Fort Mill adopted new impact fees for parks and recreation, fire service and municipal use on Aug. 24, 2015. They set up a transportation fee, too, but opted not to charge anything for it and haven't to date. The new rule stated the town wouldn't begin collecting impact fees until Oct. 1, 2015.

There were 48 new home permits issued in August of that year. Through August, there were 408 new home permits for the year. That figure was more than twice the year-to-date amount from the previous two years combined.

In September, the month between finalizing impact fees and charging for them, Fort Mill issued 51 new home permits. All of them came from subdivisions well underway during the year it took to work out and adopt new fees. Waterside at the Catawba had the most that month, with 35.

The first month charging fees, October, brought 44 more new home permits. By year's end there were 527 new home permits, 20 more than from the prior two years combined.

Where the data doesn't show a rush to the permit window then, the county isn't expecting one now. Timing may save builders on a home here, a few there. It likely won't be hundreds of homes in a subdivision and a difference of millions of dollars for developers and the school district.

Not unless that subdivision has been in the works for some time already.

"Subdivision approval is separate from building permits," Startup said.

York County Council still could change the amount when it meets in July, or table the decision to a later date. Otherwise the county planning and development site has information for anyone looking for a permit, to avoid surprises.

"Please plan accordingly," it reads.

John Marks: jmarks@fortmilltimes.com; @JohnFMTimes
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