Kershaw considers plan for industrial site

The idea of buying and developing the old Springs Mills property as a small industrial park is no longer feasible for the town of Kershaw.
But that doesn’t mean its leaders aren’t exploring other options to attract jobs to the southern part of Lancaster County.
Last month, town council heard a presentation from Columbia-based Carlisle and Associates on the need to develop a site-certification plan for a tract the town is interested in developing as an industrial site.
The Carlisle group already has several ties to the area, having developed the master plan for the Keer Group textile plant on Fort Mill Highway in Indian Land, as well as the full site design for Fancy Pokket on S.C. 9.
Once certified, the site would be filed with the S.C. Commerce Department as a possible industrial park.
“To get any economic-development activity, you’ve got to have a product,” said Gene Resch, a Carlisle and Associates civil engineer. “That’s what you need, and it has good possibilities for that.”
At one time, Resch said, the Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. referred to the tract as Project Excelsior.
The property is just north of the town limits along Railroad Avenue and the start of North Matson Street.
It’s part of a 75-acre tract the town bought after Lancaster County purchased 21 acres to build the Andrew Jackson Area Recreation Center.
“It’s a good-size parcel for development,” Resch said.
While it has access to sewer and water service, as well as the potential for rail service, there are plenty of details that must be ironed out.
Among them is rezoning the property to allow industrial uses, which could be a major obstacle with the tract being close to several homes, the recreation center and near Kershaw Elementary School. Right now, the property is zoned R-45A, which does not allow industrial uses. Thirty-foot setbacks and a landscaping buffer would also have to be added, which means there would be some land loss on the amount of property that could be used.
Resch also recommended Kershaw Town Council contact Duke Energy about its site-readiness program, which evaluates and assesses industrial sites in the counties the utilities serves. Duke Energy, not the town, would pay for the site-readiness evaluation.
Once the evaluation is completed, Resch said the results could be shelved until they are needed.
Topographic maps would need to drawn and soil samples taken as part of the site-certification plan.
“When the Department of Commerce calls, you have about two hours or two days to let them know it’s a site that works,” he said. “If it’s not prepared, there is no way to respond.”
Also, the town would need to work out a land swap with the county to make the rail spur contiguous to the property it owns.
Right now, the town has about $606,000 for economic development.
The land swap, said acting Town Administrator Tony Starnes, should be the first step, followed by the rezoning and then the site certification.
“We have to get an area certified,” said Kershaw Mayor Wayne Rhodes.
“We still have the gold mine wanting an area to off-load lime, which is one reason we’re pursuing this property. Yes, we have to buy some of the little shotgun houses on Railroad Avenue, but it would help us develop the park and get it certified so we’re ready.
There’s a lot of things we have to answer before we can do this,” he said.

By Gregory A. Summers, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News