Education

Clover school district increases proposed developer fees. Here’s what to know.

State and York Co. argue in court to uphold rules allowing fees in Fort Mill school district

South Carolina and York County attorneys argued to uphold rules allowing for impact fee charges in the Fort Mill school district. State and county home builder group attorneys argues the fees should be illegal.
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South Carolina and York County attorneys argued to uphold rules allowing for impact fee charges in the Fort Mill school district. State and county home builder group attorneys argues the fees should be illegal.

New residential development may soon cost more in the Clover school district area.

Impact fees, or new development fees, are one-time charges on new construction aimed at offsetting the cost of growth. School fees are specific to new residential construction.

The Clover school board Monday approved moving forward with charging an impact fee of $15,014 on single-family homes, $7,420 for multifamily units and $9,828 on mobile homes. This is higher than a previous estimate of $12,537 per home and $6,493 per apartment.

The increased fees reflect the school board’s approval for the next wave of new schools and other capital improvements, Superintendent Sheila Quinn said. The board had to make those decisions before determining how much the district can charge through impact fees. Clover is using TischlerBise, the same fee consultant as Fort Mill.

“The impact fee is based on the impact for new construction,” Quinn said.

The board earlier this year approved a capital plan that includes building an eighth elementary school, to open in 2024-2025, and a second high school, to open in 2025-2026, said district spokesperson Bryan Dillon. The plan also includes converting the ninth-grade campus back to a middle school, to open in 2025, and land for future capital projects.

Those additions are estimated to cost $198 million and would require a bond referendum, Dillon said.

Middle school is where the district is seeing much of the growth, Quinn said. As of Monday, Clover Middle School had 948 students enrolled and Oakridge Middle had 1,033 students, she said. Permanent capacity for Clover Middle is 1,080 students and for Oakridge is 1,132 students, according to the district.

“Our biggest area of concern is middle school,” Quinn said.

The Clover Middle School at Barrett Road opened August 2016 as part of the 2014 voter-approved $67 million bond referendum. It was part of a $99 million construction plan with five projects, that also included renovating what was Clover Middle School on Highway 5 near Clover High School into a ninth-grade campus.

The district decided to charge a separate impact fee for mobile homes. Without breaking them out, new mobile homes would be charged the single-family impact fee, Quinn said.

About 800 Clover students live in mobile homes, Quinn said.

“We felt like we needed to reflect that. That’s not a part of Fort Mill’s impact fee because they don’t have a substantial number of mobile homes in their district. We do,” she said.

The Clover school board voted months ago to move forward with establishing impact fees. The district hired consultants, studied demographics and building plan needs.

Quinn said Monday district leaders have met with local builders, real estate groups and developers. They have also met with members of the Clover Town Council and Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce.

Clover will need York County Council’s approval to create an ordinance establishing impact fees. Quinn made an official request to Council July 17.

“Clover school district has always taken pride in being proactive with our growth,” Quinn told Council. “We don’t want to get behind. We want to stay ahead. We’re proud of our facilities, and we want to maintain those strong facilities and our strong academic reputation.”

Quinn said it could take a few months for the county to approve working with the district and create an ordinance charging new development fees.

A full report on Clover’s impact fees is available on the district’s website.

Legal action

Impact fees are facing legal action after a lawsuit was filed for Fort Mill’s increased school district development fees. Impact fee opponents said the changes are unfair to builders.

The Fort Mill school district raised its impact fee a year ago, up from the $2,500 per residence set in 1996 to more than $18,000 per home and $12,000 per apartment, The Herald previously reported.

York County and South Carolina are co-defendants in the Fort Mill lawsuit.

Plaintiffs are Shea Homes, Soni Construction, Home Builders Association of South Carolina and Home Builders Association of York County.

The Fort Mill impact fee case is one of six on Judge William McKinnon’s case roster the week of Dec. 9. Two of those cases have been settled.

York County also is looking at impact fees to help with public safety, waste management and transportation. If approved, it would apply to new construction in unincorporated parts of the county, The Herald previously reported. Municipalities such as Fort Mill, Rock Hill and Tega Cay have their own separate impact fees, independent of school district fees.

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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