SC DOT delays frustrate Rock Hill's Sutton

adouglas@heraldonline.comApril 23, 2013 

— Near the Rock Hill Galleria, a development project that was stalled five years ago during the recession is back on track, Rock Hill City Councilman Kevin Sutton said on Tuesday.

Local development firm The Norman Co. owns almost 200 acres near the mall and hopes to bring retail shops and restaurants.

Several years ago, original development plans called for two-story buildings with businesses on the first level and residential space on the second level.

On Monday, the Rock Hill City Council voted to give The Norman Co. more flexibility and eliminate some stipulations that restricted what sort of businesses can occupy the space.

A similar concept for “mixed-use” development is underway about four miles away at Riverwalk off Cherry Road. The city and The Norman Co., Sutton said, are adjusting their plans to avoid dueling developments.

“There’s probably not a market to do that twice in such close proximity,” he said.

Sutton told a crowd of about 50 people Tuesday night that the new development could breathe new life near the Galleria.

Tuesday’s meeting in Ward 3 was the fifth in a series of community meetings with Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols and council members in their districts.

Sutton’s Ward 3 includes a small section of neighborhoods along Albright Road and the majority of businesses and residences near Dave Lyle Boulevard, including land The Norman Co. owns.

Near the planned development site, the city is waiting for the S.C. Department of Transportation to act on a request Rock Hill made several years ago, Sutton said.

Sutton is frustrated with S.C. DOT, he said, because it’s taking too long to fix the off-ramp and left turn lanes where drivers exit Interstate 77 onto Dave Lyle Boulevard heading south toward downtown.

The work won’t be finished this year, he said.

After leaving the interstate, drivers meet congestion as cars line up on Dave Lyle Boulevard, waiting to turn left into the Target parking lot, Sutton said.

During the holidays, he said, the stalled traffic is especially heavy and unsafe.

“And not just at holiday season – it’s every afternoon,” he said.

Rock Hill offered to complete engineering plans to move the road work along, Sutton said, and at first, the DOT agreed.

Later, when the project’s progress slowed, the DOT changed its position and said its employees would draft the plans, he said.

The city and state have money set aside to pay for the road project but the DOT’s dysfunction, Sutton said, is holding up the plan.

As new businesses move in and road projects come to fruition, Rock Hill needs to be strategic on Dave Lyle Boulevard so that the thoroughfare’s appearance doesn’t relapse as Cherry Road has, he said.

Apartment complexes and high-density residential space need to be limited near Dave Lyle Boulevard, Sutton said, and could detract from the road’s appeal.

“We need to make sure it will be here and look as good as it does now, 20 years from now or 30 years from now.”

The next neighborhood meeting is at 6:30 p.m. May 7 at the Rock Hill-York County Airport at 550 Airport Road.

Echols and Councilman John Black will attend the Ward 4 meeting.

Meetings are held within each council member’s ward, but anyone may attend any meeting.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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