In this file photo, District 7 Beaufort City Council candidates Dan Duryea and Cynthia Bensch square off at a Bluffton Town Hall forum.(Photo: Casey Conley, The Island Packet)
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Flush with new orders, the husband of newly elected Beaufort County Councilwoman Cynthia Bensch said he has obtained a license for his home-based contracting business, despite claiming a week ago he didn't need one.
Gary Bensch said he purchased the Beaufort County business license Thursday for Bensch-Mark Services, which he says is based in the garage of a home he rents in the Eagle's Pointe neighborhood.
Attempts Friday to confirm with county officials that Bensch has obtained a license were unsuccessful.
Questions about the Eagle's Pointe address emerged during the waning days of Cynthia Bensch's bid for the District 7 seat. County Council members must live in the district they represent by the date of the general election.
During a debate with opponent Dan Duryea, Cynthia Bensch claimed that although she lived in Rose Hill -- inside District 7 -- Gary Bensch rented a home in Eagle's Pointe from which he ran the business.
Eagle's Pointe is in District 6, currently represented by Councilman Jerry Stewart.
After county officials could find no license for the business, Gary Bensch said he didn't need one because he wasn't doing work within the unincorporated area.
Edra Stephens, director of business licensing, said Friday that all businesses that are located or operate in the county must be licensed. She said the rule is a state law, not a local one.
Contacted again Friday, Gary Bensch said he had applied for a license.
"I have had so many calls coming in since the Packet situation that I have a lot of work coming in, so I have gone ahead and purchased a license yesterday from Beaufort County," he said.
"I didn't really need one before because we haven't done any work in the area," he added, noting before hanging up the phone that he had no trouble getting the license.
Gary Bensch said last week he chose the Eagle's Pointe home because it offered his employees easier access to tools stored in the garage. He said Bensch-Mark Services does mostly home-repair and carpentry contracting work off premises and doesn't need a business license. Until July, the business was located off S.C. 170 in Okatie, he has said.
It's not clear why the business wasn't licensed at that location. Business licenses expire December 31, and must be renewed annually. License fees are based on the previous year's gross receipts.
Penalties for a late renewal accrue at a rate of 5 percent of gross per month.
It's not clear if home-based businesses are allowed in Eagle's Point. A representative from Bundy Appraisal & Management, which manages the development, wouldn't answer the question.
Attempts to reach Eagle's Pointe property owners' association president Joe Pantano were unsuccessful.