Plans on hold for 186-acre development off Mount Gallant Road

03/04/2014 11:04 PM

03/04/2014 11:05 PM

Rock Hill officials have deferred for at least one month a vote on a proposed 186-acre housing development to be located near the Catawba River and the intersection of Celanese and Mount Gallant roads.

The Simonini Group of Charlotte has garnered some support from residents of neighboring subdivisions for its proposed Preserve at Catawba community. Still, the Gallant Meadows homeowners association and others who live nearby say they’re concerned about the nearly 350-home community worsening existing traffic problems.

At Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting, officials agreed to wait until Simonini completes an updated traffic study around Mount Gallant and Celanese roads. The company’s original traffic impact study was done last summer. Rock Hill officials say they want a new study completed while schools are in session to show more typical traffic numbers.

Simonini is asking that Rock Hill officials sign off on a rezoning and annexation request that will allow new home construction with some commercial presence, fronting Mount Gallant Road. The 186-acre site is located north of the Bristol Park neighborhood and borders the Catawba River.

Most of the land sits outside Rock Hill’s city limits. Current land use rules would allow for residential development, including about 17 acres that is zoned for multi-family use, such as apartments.

Simonini proposes to build about 150 townhomes and at least 200 single-family homes in its Preserve at Catawba neighborhood. Around 90 acres would be designated as “green” space for recreational use.

Most residents in favor of the plan said on Tuesday that they’d prefer Simonini’s proposed development rather than future plans that could include commercial uses or apartment complexes.

Traffic along Mount Gallant Road, especially near Celanese Road, is already an issue but construction of another subdivision could actually help push transportation officials to find a solution sooner, said Noreen Muha of the nearby Rollingwood neighborhood.

“Growth along Mount Gallant is inevitable,” Muha said. She thinks Simonini’s subdivision would improve the value of nearby homes such as those in her neighborhood.

Bristol Park’s HOA representative Charles Robinson agreed, saying Simonini’s development seems to be high-quality – a plan he prefers over some others that might crop up for the land. He asked planning officials to consider appropriate buffers for Bristol Park residents who live close to the land Simonini proposes to use for commercial development.

It’s likely that business uses would be limited to small, office-type development, said Sonny Crater with Simonini Group. He suggested that some medical offices might locate there and, perhaps, a coffee shop.

Opposition to Simonini’s plan centered around existing concerns about congestion and speeding in the area. A few road work projects are slated to improve the I-77 and Celanese Road corridor. A York County road plan to widen Mount Gallant Road has been pushed back because of lack of enough money.

Residents against Simonini’s plan say traffic concerns make this the wrong time to add more homes. Fritz Gaudian from Gallant Meadows HOA presented the commission with a petition of 141 signatures of homeowners opposed to the development.

A representative from York County Natural Gas reminded Rock Hill officials that a “high pressure transmission pipeline” runs through the land. If development moves forward, the natural gas authority would have to meet strict federal regulations to protect the pipeline and surrounding residents.

The 8-inch gas line serves most of northern York County, about 17,000 residents.

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