Rock Hill mayor salutes RHEDC; council delays McDonald’s rezoning vote

Council delays vote on McDonald’s rezoning

adouglas@heraldonline.comJanuary 14, 2013 

Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols praised the efforts of the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. Monday as Rock Hill City Council members approved the group’s goals for 2013.

Achievements from 2012 such as a jobs creation initiative through Rock Hill’s “Knowledge Park” and developing a plan to redevelop the downtown site of the old Woolworth store, Echols said, were “significant efforts” by RHEDC.

Also on Monday, the council delayed a vote on rezoning property in the Oakwood Acres neighborhood to accommodate for a McDonald’s restaurant on Celanese Road.

The city and RHEDC said last week they’re moving forward with a plan for another “spec” building at the SouthCross Corporate Center off Cherry Road.

Rock Hill is looking for grant money to reduce its investment in the 40,000 square foot “spec” building, which it hopes to sell. The city and RHEDC could put about $500,000 toward the SouthCross building.

On Monday, RHEDC Chairman Andy Shene said the organization is gaining ground on construction of a five-story, downtown apartment building on the site of the old Woolworth store.

RHEDC, Shene said, has submitted an application for financing the apartment development through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development loan. More than $1.1 million, he said, has been raised in private investment for the downtown development.

Winthrop University has plans to use the first floor of the East Main Street building for its small business and technology department center.

City boards consolidated

In other action Monday, the council unanimously approved combining four boards that hear building code appeals.

Using four boards, said Rock Hill’s building official Bruce Spicher, is not as effective as one board because of the low number of appeals. City staff estimate that two appeals have been made over the past 10 years.

Maintaining membership on four boards with similar roles, he said, is difficult. Seats on the city board must be filled by people with specialized skills and who live or own a business inside Rock Hill’s city limits. The appeals board settles disputes between the city and contractors or homeowners over building code interpretations such as plumbing, fire and engineering.

Rezoning vote deferred

Oakwood Acres residents say they are happy the council did not move forward on a rezoning issue that would change a residential lot to commercial property in preparation for a McDonald’s near their homes.

The fast food chain has submitted a request to the city for the rezoning in hopes of building a restaurant on Celanese Road, between Mount Gallant Road and Monterey Drive.

Neighbors opposed to the McDonald’s say drivers already cut through and speed on Monterey Drive as they try to avoid the busy intersection at Mount Gallant and Celanese Roads. A 24-hour restaurant on the corner, they say, will increase outside traffic on the residential road.

The city’s Traffic Commission decided last week to begin a study to measure traffic volume and speed of cars on Monterey Drive. The study should be finished by the council’s Feb. 11 meeting, said Bill Meyer, Rock Hill’s planning director.

Although the vote on rezoning has been delayed twice, Oakwood Acres resident Wade Neal said he’s unsure the neighborhood will win the battle to keep McDonald’s out. The traffic study at least, he said, should convince council members that Monterey Drive isn’t suited for more car.

McDonald’s is continuing to work with neighbors and find solutions to their concerns, said Bryan Tuttle, a local developer handling the project. He has support in the neighborhood, he’s said.

He collected enough signatures from homeowners to lift a deed restriction on the home being considered for rezoning.

The Celanese Road McDonald’s is expected to create 100 new jobs and add about $3 million to Rock Hill’s tax base.

Anna Douglas 803-329-4068

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