COLUMBIA — Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a bill that he says will protect manufacturers from "nuisance lawsuits" by neighbors upset with the practices of nearby businesses.
McMaster said Tuesday at a ceremony that the new law is important to show businesses looking to create jobs in South Carolina that the state will protect them from unnecessary legal actions.
The bill says industrial plants cannot be deemed a nuisance if their licenses and permits are current and they're complying with all local, state and federal laws and regulations. It is meant to protect existing companies from lawsuits when subdivisions locate around the plants.
“One thing we always want to convey to people looking to invest in our state is that they know what they're getting when they come to South Carolina; they're not going to be vexed with unnecessary complaints and lawsuits,” McMaster said. “One of the things that has troubled some is nuisance lawsuits that have no basis. So what we're doing is making the pre-existing common law even more clear to say that as long as a business is following all the rules and has all the permits and documentation that it needs to have, someone who moves near that plant or facility can't start complaining that it is there doing what it is licensed to do.”
“Gov. McMaster and his secretary of commerce, Bobby Hitt, have done a tremendous job recruiting new industry to our state as well as expanding our existing industries, and they're bringing thousands of jobs for our citizens,” said Rep. Mike Forrester, the lead sponsor of H.3653. “With hundreds of companies who have invested heavily and have built facilities and factories, people move closer and closer to the facilities, increasing the threat of nuisance lawsuits even though the companies, as the governor said, are operating under their permitting guidelines. Through the legislative process we were able to address the needs of business and industry and still protect the individual property owners' rights.”
“On behalf of South Carolina manufacturers and their thousands of South Carolina associates, we are grateful to the legislature and Gov. McMaster for their leadership in making H. 3653 law,” said Sara Hazzard, president and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance. “As South Carolina's population continues to grow and neighborhoods continue to expand closer and closer to existing manufacturing facilities' footprints, it is important to provide certainty to those manufacturers so that they can continue to invest, operate, and provide jobs. South Carolina manufacturers strive to be good neighbors and this legislation strikes a balance between the needs of industry and the rights of citizens. This law will encourage future South Carolina manufacturing capital investments and jobs."
Opponents worry the new law will limit homeowners' rights.