May 11, 2008

Candidates agree on issues but differ on solutions

York County Council incumbent Paul Lindemann and his council predecessor Jeff Updike face a rematch of their 2006 campaigns for the District 1 Republican nomination in the June 10 primary.

Each sees economic development, residential-commercial balance and transportation corridors as major issues this round, but they vary on emphases.

Updike, executive director of the Nation Ford Land Trust, thinks the county should put more effort into drawing the $300 million in commercial and industrial investments needed each year to break even with the residential tax load.

"Last year, we only had $72 million come in," he said of commercial and industrial investments.

He advocates more resources for York County Economic Development staff.

"More council members should attend York County Economic Development Board meetings," Updike said. "You want to go meet with these corporations and talk with them. We need more industrial parks. We need more speculative buildings for companies to move into. We should support Charlotte regional partnerships and look internationally to recruit business."

He contends the county must get out of the landfill lawsuit business and become more business-friendly.

Lindemann, owner of a real estate investment firm, said that while current zoning allows developers to build homes, he's worked diligently with developers to stagger projects into stages so everything is not developed at once.

"We have continued to have impact fees and work with schools, county officials and municipalities to control growth," Lindemann said. "We need commercial to balance the tax base."

As a result of the growth, he cited Gold Hill and Doby's Bridge roads as necessary targets in upcoming "Pennies For Progress" projects because they are near capacity and facing more development.

"We've got to start working on the infrastructure so when growth comes, we'll be prepared," he said.

He and other council members, particularly Tom Smith, are working on overlay planning districts that would designate how zoning would be used on the Gold Hill and S.C. 160 corridors, as well as overlay districts along S.C. 160 and Doby's Bridge to balance commercial and residential growth, he said.

"What I'm pretty much running on is balancing the county, not just development, but bringing balance and unity to the council," he added.

Updike, however, cites the council's recent first-reading approval for a strip mall in the multifamily-zoned Waterstone and Tara Plantation area along S.C. 160. The move countered planners' recommendations and the 2025 master plan, and the council since has reconsidered it.

"Good planning calls for commercial centers around intersections surrounded by high-density residential and then lower density," he said. "We don't want S.C. 160 to become Cherry Road. There is space at intersections to have more commercial development than we have."

Updike also contends the county should put more effort into mass transportation so that residents can ride from Rock Hill to Fort Mill and Tega Cay on a bus and/or light rail and link to the Charlotte area.

"The whole U.S. 21 corridor could become a mass transit corridor," he said. "They (S.C. Department of Transportation and York County transportation planners) are reserving a center lane on the new U.S. 21 bridge for a mass transit lane."

Updike points to the fact that the area is under non-compliance for ozone levels and recommends connected trails and greenways in developments.

He also believes area elected bodies should communicate with one another regularly to prevent potential problems.

Lindemann applauds the council's recent progress in avoiding "back-room meetings and in-house animosity."

"We are allowing people to become part of the process," he said. "It is, after all, their seat."

Lindemann cites his efforts in the successful repaving and striping of Regent Parkway, saying he wants focus on Regent Park to continue. He also said he is working with the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation System board for a beautification project in the "Fort Vegas" area where former gambling houses have become stores and produce stands. And he's working with Sheriff Bruce Bryant to get an extra deputy on patrol around the Gold Hill/S.C. 160 corridor, through Pleasant Road, around Carowinds and down U.S. 21 to Gold Hill during the rush hours.

"I don't think I would have done anything differently," he said. "I voted what I thought was right."

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic candidate Marion Davenport and Green Party candidate Bryan Smith for the District 1 county council seat, a two-year post that pays $14,700 a year.

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