The explosive growth around Lake Wylie was on display Monday. Residents from the lake area filled the York County Council chambers to capacity to encourage members to pass an overlay district that would limit future development in one of the fastest-growing areas of the county.
But the public position wasn’t unanimous, with some residents worried the measure would take away their ability to use their property the way they want to.
More than an hour was spent taking public comment on the second of three council readings on the overlay proposal, with most residents raising the same concerns: the traffic on what were once rural roads as more residents move in, crowded schools, and the environmental impact of clear-cutting the woods around the water for large new apartment buildings.
“The schools can’t handle the growth, the roads can’t handle it and I have no idea if the services in place can handle it,” said Doug Meyer-Cuno, one of a dozen residents who spoke in favor of the overlay.
An overlay district would help alleviate some of that stress. Under the proposed rules, future development would be limited in an area stretching from the Buster Boyd Bridge to Three Points along S.C. 49.
The rules would set open space requirements in what has become a densely congested area – including a “sliding scale” that requires new developments to set aside 25 percent to 40 percent of the area for green space – discourage mass grading, prohibit multifamily housing within 2,000 feet of the lake at its full elevation, and set a maximum single-family residence density of two units per acre.
The effect of development on the water itself was a particular concern, because Lake Wylie is a source of drinking water. Paul Link said the cove behind his property still shows the effects of sedimentation runoff from a large development 14 years earlier.
“A lot of mud is still in there,” Link said. “Once it’s there, the damage is done. The best way to prevent it is to decide what to do with the woods before you head out.”
Judy Payne said she was surprised at the development that’s been allowed to occur over the past few years, since she was once denied permission to put a small guest home on her 1.5-acre property.
“This directly affects me, my quality of life and my property value,” she said.
Other residents said they were concerned about the impact of the overlay district on property owners, especially because only a few parcels of land will fall within its boundaries.
“The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers,” said Joe Verser. “I ask that you protect private property rights.”
DeWayne Goldberg said concerns about crowded schools are purely anecdotal.
“If you call the Clover school district, they have a 15-year plan for growth in this area,” Goldberg said. “People keep saying the schools are overcrowded, but that’s not the issue.”
Councilman Joe Cox was the only council member out of six present who voted against the overlay district.
“What you’re going to do is tell the owners of these 10 or 12 properties, ‘We’re going to take 45 percent of your land away from you,’” he said.
As for the traffic issues associated with growth, Cox said, “the majority of these roads are state infrastructure projects. We have no jurisdiction over them.”
Councilman William “Bump” Roddey told Lake Wylie residents it may be easier to address their concerns if the unincorporated area of York County became its own town and managed these issues itself.
“You’re asking the county to do what municipalities do for their citizens,” Roddey said. “If you were incorporated, your mayor would have the pulse of the Lake Wylie community. I’m kind of at a disadvantage, because there are four of us (on the council) who live in Rock Hill.”
The measure has to pass a third reading by the council before it can go into effect. At that meeting, the council will hold an official public hearing on the overlay district.
In other action Monday, the council heard that work along the Fort Mill Southern Bypass is continuing as part of “Pennies for Progress.”
Council members approved agreements with Duke Energy and York Electric Cooperative to relocate utilities along the bypass route, the first portion of which opened to traffic in July.
The engineering design firm STV will do design work for the route’s intersection with Sutton Road.