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Tree Tops receives first council approval

The Lancaster County Council on Monday approved by a 5-2 vote the first reading of a rezoning ordinance amendment and a development agreement that would allow Lennar Carolinas LLC to build a subdivision at a former children’s camp.

The development, named the Preserve at Tree Tops, would be built at 9070 Van Wyck Road, about 2 miles southwest of U.S. Highway 521. Lennar is asking that the county change the zoning from planned development district to a low-density cluster subdivision district. The company would leave 385 acres as open space.

Lennar wants to build 835 single-family homes on the 623-acre site, but area residents remain loyal to the former owner of the property, Fred Wikoff, who wanted the site to remain a camp for disadvantaged children.

“What he wanted was for the children to be healed on that property,” Kristy Davis said at the meeting. “And I believe that what can happen on that property can make a huge difference for the county of Lancaster.”

The camp, run by The Family Center, went under in 2008. Thompson Child and Family Focus, a nonprofit organization, took over The Family Center with hopes of resurrecting the camp, but then concluded it couldn’t and put the land on the market.

The council’s Development Agreement Committee submitted its recommendations on the agreement between Lennar and the county last week after taking the Planning Commission’s recommendations into account.

This led to some confusion at the meeting concerning the quantity of age-restricted units that would be built.

Prior to being heard by the county’s Planning Commission on Oct. 21, the development agreement stated that 50 percent of the plan’s housing units would be restricted to homeowners aged 55 and older. But the version of the agreement heard at Monday’s meeting did not require any age-restricted housing.

The three members of the County Council who make up the Development Agreement Committee said that was a mistake, and requested the age-restricted requirement be added to the agreement before its second reading.

But Lennar representative John Hardy said the company was already planning to do that.

The Development Agreement Committee added to the agreement that Lennar provide a school payment of $417,500 and a public safety payment of $835,000.

Lennar has agreed also to donate to the county 2.2 acres of land on the north end of Van Wyck Road to be used for a future public safety building, and contribute $350,000 for the repaving of 2 miles of Van Wyck Road and adding a left-turn lane at the development’s entrance.

Also approved by the Lancaster County Council on Monday night:

  • The third and final readings of development agreements for two subdivisions proposed by Bonterra Builders LLC, each by a vote of 6-1. Both developments received rezoning approvals that would allow for cluster subdivision overlay districts, each also by a 6-1 vote. The subdivisions, Barber Rock South and the Reserve at Barber Rock, will include 125 single-family homes on 84 acres of land and 52 single-family homes on 35 acres of land, respectively. The Barber Rock South site is just west of the intersection of S.C. Highway 160 and Barberville Road, and the Reserve at Barber Rock is on Barberville Road across from Agnes Douglas Road, about three miles north of the Barber Rock South site.
  • By a vote of 6-1, the rezoning of properties in the county’s Highway Corridor Overlay District, which was created in June to “provide standards relative to connectivity, aesthetic appearance, and safety along major gateways” that lead to, from and within the county. The overlay includes regulations such as limiting the types of materials used to construct buildings and requirements for open space for large commercial businesses. It runs north for about 11 miles along U.S. Highway 521 from S.C. Highway 75, then west for about 3 miles to the county line along S.C. Highway 160 in the northern part of the panhandle. The rezoning includes all properties fronting on, within, or partially within 1,000 feet of the right of way of both highways, with the exception of single-family houses. More than 1,700 parcels were affected by the rezoning, according to Planning Director Penelope Karagounis.

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