YORK COUNTY, S.C. – The County Council on Monday turned down a rezoning request for nearly 179 acres in the Lake Wylie area, saying it would add too much traffic to already-strained roads.
Rezoning requests must go through three readings in South Carolina in order to pass, but the council voted unanimously to deny the request at the first reading because of the high volume of traffic in the area.
“Traffic is the number one concern of every development that’s going on, every building project that’s going on, and we are behind at least – and I think I’m being really generous in saying – 10 years on traffic issues in this county,” said Councilman William “Bump” Rodney.
During a public hearing, 13 people who were opposed to the rezoning addressed the council, and almost all of them cited traffic as their biggest concern.
The landowners — Marsh Realty Co., Patrick Family LLC and Millco LLC — requested that the property be rezoned from rural development to residential conservation with conditions to allow for a higher density. The property is on S.C. Highway 274, east of its intersection with Pole Branch Road.
Bailey Patrick, a partner at Patrick Family LLC, said during the public hearing that the landowners hoped to build 250 single-family homes on the property.
The original request, which they asked be deferred last month, included up to 328 single-family homes.
“The reduction to 250 units at two units per developable acre and at 1.4 per gross acre – in my view and experience – that is a very low density, and I hope that you will agree with that and recognize that,” Patrick said.
Patrick also told the council that – in consideration of the traffic concerns – the target demographic for the project would be active adults, and that the landowners were willing to pay for road improvements to S.C. Highway 274 and Pole Branch Road.
Patrick said after the meeting that he couldn’t guarantee the council that the development would be age-restricted because a builder had not been determined yet.
After the council rejected the request, Patrick said that the landowners would either wait a year before requesting another rezoning, which is required by the county following a denied request, or would develop the property under the existing zoning.
The property’s existing zoning allows for a maximum density of one single-family unit per 2 acres, which would allow up to 89 homes to be built on the site.
Regarding traffic, Rodney said the council was facing a “Catch-22” because people want to move to York County, but that something needs to be done to address the road congestion before more homes are built.
Patrick said after the meeting that the property owners picked a bad time to apply for the rezoning.
“Unfortunately, we just came in at a time that opposition to anything is so high,” he said.
The council also held a public hearing Monday on an ordinance to amend an existing agreement with the school district and Rock Hill that would divert some county and school district tax revenue to Rock Hill’s downtown revitalization project, Knowledge Park.
Rock Hill wants to include more land in and extend the timeframe for a tax increment financing district it created to help spur economic development in its downtown. However, it needs the approval of the County Council because Rock Hill, York County and the Rock Hill School District all receive tax revenue from properties within the district.
The TIF district includes properties along Ebenezer Avenue and on both sides of Constitution Boulevard in downtown Rock Hill. The proposed expansion would include the West Main and West Black street corridors.
The district was established in 2004, and its creation freezes the school district’s and the county’s shares of tax revenues from properties located in the district at 2004 levels, and any increases in taxes collected on those properties funds the Knowledge Park project until the district’s designation expires. Knowledge Park is a public-private project in which the city hopes to revitalize a former textile property known as the Bleachery and surrounding properties.
Rock Hill wants to extend the expiration date 10 years from 2029 to 2039.
Extending the agreement and expanding the TIF district could reduce the county’s share of property tax revenue by $2.8 million over the next 24 years.
On Monday, for the second consecutive public hearing, people who spoke against amending the agreement said it was because they were displeased with the lack of details that Rock Hill has shared about how the extra tax revenue would be spent.
Councilman Robert Winkler said Wednesday that council members to this point have not been satisfied with the amount of information Rock Hill has supplied in the past regarding how funds generated by the TIF district had been spent. He said the county may seek a provision in the amended agreement requiring that financial reports be submitted to the county within a set timeframe, or else the county could pull its contribution for the following year.
“We just want to make sure that if the agreement goes through that sort of thing doesn’t continue to happen,” he said.
Also on Monday, the council approved the first reading for a request to rezone about 7.5 acres from residential development district to rural development district. If the request passes a third reading, Randall A. Fields, the landowner, plans to request a land-use variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow for a cell tower to be built on the property.