The company agreed to lease a decades-old warehouse at 7149 Logistics Lane and began moving in. It didn’t need a rezoning approval from county.
But the company asked for a tax-break. In March, York County Council held the first of three readings of an ordinance to provide the tax-break to Silfab, then hidden under the name “Project Mountie.”
When Fort Mill residents learned that “Project Mountie” would bring a solar panel manufacturer called Silfab to their town, they poured into council chambers.
As the first solar panel manufacturer in York County, residents expressed concern about the company’s impact on the environment, traffic and fit within the largely suburban community. They questioned if it was the best use of the warehouse, which some thought would become a distribution center.
It led three council members — Cloninger, Tom Audette and Allison Love — to vote against the tax-break on Sept. 18.
“I can’t put my head on the pillow at night knowing that, across York County, there are people with major concerns, fears,” Love said.
Experts have downplayed the risk of the facility, arguing there is little environmental threat to the surrounding community.
Multiple municipalities and organizations, including York County management and York County Regional Chamber of Commerce, have signed off on the project. In its preliminary review, the state Department of Heath and Environmental Control found no concerns, though it has not issued a permit yet. It will host a future public hearing to hear residents’ concerns.
As a result, some councilmembers said the company checked all of the boxes for a tax-break.
“Putting to people work. That’s one of the major things that we do up here — is to recruit jobs to come here,” councilmember William “Bump” Roddey said, “so our citizens can have a place to work, so they can purchase a place to live, so they can sustain their lifestyle.”
After Monday’s decision, Silfab will pay a total of $17 million in property taxes to Fort Mill Schools and $4.7 million to York County over a 30-year period. The company would only receive the tax break if it hit agreed-upon benchmarks, such as hiring 800 people.