LANCASTER, S.C. – Mattamy Homes on Monday backed out of a controversial bid to put 800 single-family homes on the Indian Land site of a former camp for disadvantage youths.
In a two-sentence letter dated July 14 – the day before the county’s Planning Commission was to receive a draft development agreement for Preserve at TreeTops – an official with the Canada-based homebuilder’s Charlotte division said the company was dropping its effort to rezone 622 acres in the fast-growing Indian Land area.
“Please withdraw our development agreement and rezoning application” for Preserve at TreeTops, wrote Tom Kutz, vice president for land acquisition and development for Mattamy’s Charlotte division.
Kutz could not be reached for further comment. Hamilton Stolpen, the Charlotte division’s land project manager, was on vacation, and said by phone that he didn’t know about the withdrawal. Messages left for officials in the company’s headquarters in suburban Toronto were not returned.
Impassioned opponents to the project who spoke at a March County Council public hearing argued that the county should honor the wishes of former property owner Fred Wikoff, now deceased, who donated the land to a nonprofit organization with the understanding that it would be used as the camp. However, there are no deed restrictions on the property.
The opponents, who began their campaign against the project shortly after it was announced in summer 2013, also said that the project was an example of what they described as poorly managed growth in the county’s northern panhandle, and of county officials kowtowing to developers.
“Why not just rename the county Mattamy County?” resident Barbara Bartos said in a blog titled “Don’t let Mattamy hold county hostage,” which appeared on the Internet in March.
The Family Center, the nonprofit to which Wikoff originally donated the property, was in financial straits largely as a result of trying to maintain the camp’s part-time operations when the organization was subsumed by the larger Thompson Child & Family Focus, Thompson CEO Mary Jo Powers said.
In the merger agreement, officials at the Matthews-based Thompson said they would try to keep the camp open but made no guarantees. After three years of attempting to raise money from foundations, churches, YMCAs and corporate sponsors – and after $2 million in debt retirement and maintenance – Thompson Child called the camp quits in 2011 and put the property on the market for $9.3 million, Powers said.
The only offer made by an entity that wanted to try to keep the camp alive was for $1 million, Powers said.
Also in Lancaster on Monday, the County Council gave final approval to rezoning petitions and development agreements for two new single-family housing subdivisions in Indian Land.
Proposals for subdivisions by M/I Homes of Columbus, Ohio, and TDON Development of Coral Springs, Fla., both won votes of approval from the council Monday night with only two public speakers opposing them and no discussion among the council members. TDON plans a 1.5 unit-per-acre subdivision called Bent Creek on 190 acres along Henry Harris Road. M/I’s Southstone project will put two units per acre on a 164-acre site on Barberville Road.