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Lake Wylie overlay amendment shot down by council

Map by Ryan O'Shea

Map by Ryan O’Shea

YORK COUNTY – The York County Council tabled a proposed amendment to the Lake Wylie overlay ordinance at Monday night’s council meeting, and unanimously approved directing the planning staff to revise the planning and zoning processes for the entire county and set an effective date of Aug. 1, 2015.

The amendment would have discouraged mass grading by permitting a single-family home maximum density of two units per acre within 2,000 feet of the lake’s full elevation within the overlay district, which 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.

At the meeting, the county’s planning division recommended a time table for revising and approving the amendment, which it had been working on since the council deferred a decision on the amendment last month.

This led to a lengthy discussion among council members about the county’s land use.

Eddie Moore, executive director of Planning and Development Services, said the staff suggested the amendment be developed during the next several months in order to reflect the concerns of all parties that would be affected by it: lake residents, property owners and developers hoping to build within the overlay district.

But Councilman Bruce Henderson, who represents the district that the overlay is in, wanted something to be done about the development around the lake as soon as possible.

“Excuse me, but why would it take that long?” he asked Moore.

“The staff does not want to come out of the gate and write a proposal,” Moore responded. “This is something that we want to open up to the community on both sides of the table to give us their take on how this should be written.”

Henderson made a motion for the council to vote on a revised version of the proposed amendment in two weeks, but Chairman Britt Blackwell said that may put the county in a position to be sued, and suggested that the council discuss legal implications in an executive session, which they did near the end of the meeting. Council members did not provide details on why they feared a lawsuit.

Councilman Michael Johnson said the planning staff’s proposal for the amendment did provide a timeline for fixing the county’s “greatest problem,” which he said was figuring out how the county wants to grow.

“What (Henderson) wants is the right thing. The question is, is it the right thing for the entire county?” he said. “I just don’t think the overlay was created to do this.”

The overlay district was established in 2000, and is meant to “encourage high quality development” that addresses the “unique character and environment” of the Lake Wylie community, and “promote a balance between natural beauty and man-made entities,” according to the York County Code of Ordinances.

Blackwell said also at the meeting that if Lake Wylie became its own town, its residents would have more control of their part of the county.

“But really, if you want some of the things that (Henderson’s) demanding all the time, wouldn’t it be a lot better to get incorporated, form your town council, elect your mayor, and get what you want and need in that area?” he said.

Also at the meeting Monday, the council unanimously approved the second reading for a rezoning of 20 acres from rural development to residential conservation behind Oakridge Middle School along S.C. Highway 557. Evergreen Land Partners LLC is proposing to build a 20-lot subdivision on the property for single-family homes, and is planning for 30 percent of the site to be open space.

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