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York to reconsider overlay amendment

overlay.webThe York County Council is scheduled to revisit a proposed amendment to its Lake Wylie overlay ordinance at its Nov. 17 meeting, after deferring a vote following concerns raised at a public hearing Oct. 20.

The planning staff is working to revise the proposed amendment in an effort to reflect the concerns raised by property owners and potential developers in the area, and will update the council at the Nov. 17 meeting.

The last version was proposed to discourage mass grading within the overlay district, and, more specifically, create a zone 2,000 feet from the lake’s maximum capacity – at 570 feet above sea level – in which only single-family detached housing is allowed, and imposing a maximum density of two units per acre for that housing.

The overlay district, which was established in 2000, is bordered by the lake and the Buster Boyd Bridge to its east, and by a vertical boundary line that runs through the intersection of Highway 557 and Oakridge Road to its west. It runs north to Mill Creek, and south to Crowders Creek.

The planning staff declined during an interview Thursday morning to provide details on its progress to revise the amendment, but Planning and Development Interim Director Eddie Moore said that the amendment, as written prior to its deferral, would only affect residential zonings.

Water-quality concerns

The amendment was first presented publicly at the council’s Sept. 2 meeting, and has since generated supporters and opponents representing a variety of interests. Residents, those who own property and developers hoping to build within the overlay have all voiced opinions on the matter.

It was proposed as a result of concerns raised by people who live there.

“It has been raised by the residents of the Lake Wylie area as part of the increase in development that’s been occurring in Lake Wylie,” Moore said Thursday morning.

Planning Services Manager Stephen Allen said residents were concerned particularly with high-density housing, and after the October council meeting, several said they were concerned about pollution and the clear-cutting of trees.

“They’re concerned about the water quality of the lake,” Moore said. “That’s been their focal point.”

Lake Wylie is the primary source of drinking water for several communities both in North Carolina and South Carolina, including Belmont and Fort Mill and Rock Hill, S.C., according to the Catawba Riverkeeper website.  Residents have urged the council to protect the county’s “most valuable” resource by limiting development around the lake.

Eight people addressed the council at its meeting July 21 to “express opposition to a development neighborhood being built on Bonum Road,” according to the council meeting minutes. Bonum Road runs north up to the lake’s shoreline and west across the northern part of the overlay district.

This prompted Councilman Bruce Henderson, whose district contains the overlay, to ask the county’s planning department to search for a solution.

Two developers had submitted plans prior to the amendment’s proposal, meaning they would be exempt from its requirements should it pass.

Mattamy Homes has proposed an 85-acre, 175-lot subdivision along Baker Lane, which runs east off Bonum Road and is also in the northern part of the overlay district.

Moore said on Thursday that the other development that would not have to abide by the amendment was called Redwood Apartments, which would be at S.C. Highway 49 and Spurrier Court on the eastern half of the overlay district.

Walton South Carolina LLC presented a site plan to the county in October for a mixed-use development on 212 acres of land that would include 88,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, both lower and higher density housing, and common amenities including open space.

About 60 percent of the site is located within the overlay district. Walton representatives said their primary concern was that the amendment would limit what they could develop there, and that if changes to their plans were required, it could cost the county as much as $5.4 million dollars in property taxes over the next 10 years.

Property matters

Those who own property within the overlay are concerned about how the amendment will affect the value of their land, as it will limit what potential buyers will be able to build.

Prior to the amendment’s public hearing Oct. 20, the majority of those who had addressed the council and the Planning Commission publicly were Lake Wylie residents who supported the amendment. But several attorneys representing property owners attended the public hearing and opposed the amendment on their behalf.

“More likely than not, no potential purchaser that wasn’t already well into this process is putting any money up,” John Gettys, an attorney representing one of the property owners, said on Thursday.

Gettys suggested at the hearing that a date be set for when the overlay would go into effect. This would give property owners the opportunity to sell their land, and developers the opportunity to buy land and begin with their plans.

“(The ordinance) is coming in with deals that have already been struck, and they’re, in effect, scaring off all the new ones,” he said on Thursday. “You’re putting the burden on the purchaser by giving the deals a deadline, and that’s what you want.”

Gettys said on Thursday that he would recommend that the council  wait until summer 2015 to put the amendment into effect.

Development on the rise

Although residents said they were not opposed to the amendment’s deferral, it’s clear they don’t want the issue to be ignored, as they said it had been in the past.

“Our council allowed the plan that we’re really discussing now to be, essentially, thrown in the garbage two years ago,” said Peggy Clickner, a Lake Wylie resident. “And the community did meet and gave input, all the same input you’re hearing by the way, and we didn’t realize nothing happened, that it had been tossed in the trash.”

Allen said on Thursday that the rapid growth of development around the lake has caught residents by surprise.

“They’re just seeing the large development because we’ve gone five years without development,” he said. “So now it comes in and there’s going to be a reaction when you have a null period of time that we’ve had, and then all of sudden, the lights go on.”


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