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York Council member: ‘We’re upside-down’ with residential

When he talks about Standard Pacific Homes’ proposed master-planned development in York County, Michael Johnson can’t help but lapse into “on the one hand … on the other hand” ambivalence.

Johnson, a member of the York County Council and a real estate lawyer, is pleased that Standard Pacific Homes is interested in developing 151 acres in a high-demand area near Lake Wylie.

The development requires a rezoning of the tract along Highway 160 between Tega Cay and Fort Mill. The rezoning application describes a “mixed-use development (that) will include single-family residential, multi-family residential, commercial, open space, and walking trails.”

That one word, “commercial,” pinched among loftier phrases, is why Johnson’s response is upbeat but falls short of a celebration. In a recent meeting with Standard Pacific Homes’ representatives, he found out the plan calls for five acres of commercial development.

“I would love to see,” he said in a telephone interview, “that five acres become 10 or 15 acres.” That’s because commercial properties contribute a proportionally higher share of taxes than residential.

Johnson, whose district includes the Standard Pacific Homes project, said residential development does fit in the area, another source of his ambivalence.

“It’s heavily residential, and we don’t have a commercial tax base to support the county and the schools,” he said, adding that county officials would love to see shops and restaurants take root.

“We need more diversity in that area,” Johnson said.

“We need 60-40 (ratio), commercial to residential. We’re 60-40 residential. We’re upside down.”

Still, he said, “It’s hard to tell a private business, ‘No.’ At what point do you say, ‘No’ (to residential development)? We’re not there yet.”

In the meeting with Standard Pacific’s representatives, Johnson said, he urged more commercial development.

“But they said, ‘We don’t do commercial. We build homes,’” Johnson said.


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