Residents hoping for limits to the growth at Lake Wylie will have to wait almost a year before any restrictions on new development could go into effect.
York County Council voted Nov. 17 to allow the planning staff more time to develop a comprehensive plan to protect the area from overdevelopment. The vote essentially ends an earlier overlay plan focused on S.C. 49 between Buster Boyd Bridge and Three Points, at highways 274, 557 and 49. That plan would have gone into effect with council approval, but members backed off because of concerns it was too restrictive of property development rights.
Interim director Eddie Moore said the county planning and development office would need several months to gather data and public input to create an overlay proposal that will address the concerns raised by Lake Wylie residents in recent months. Moore also stressed the need to follow planning guidelines in creating new restrictions around the lake.
“It makes sense to do something that’s comprehensive and defensible if challenged,” Moore said.
Under the planning department’s timeline, public meetings will be held in February and March. Lake Wylie residents’ input will be used to craft a proposal Council could pass by June. If the overlay is approved, Moore recommended that the final overlay plan go into effect in October 2015.
But Councilman Bruce Henderson, who represents the Lake Wylie area, said residents would be concerned such a lengthy delay would allow more housing development to go forward in the meantime, increasing traffic, straining public services and creating environmental hazards for the lake.
“What I had hoped to see was something we could pass tonight,” he said. “I’ve had citizens, staff, even a former council member involved in making what I thought were minor changes to lessen density.”
But county planners worried the overlay proposal, which passed two readings in September before council decided to defer action for a month to allow planning staff to modify the proposal, would impose too many restrictions on property owners. Council Chairman Britt Blackwell and member Michael Johnson both asked county attorney Michael Kendree if the county could be sued if the overlay was passed in its current form. Kendree said he would prefer to get into the “legal niceties” in a closed executive session.
Councilman Curwood Chappell said he would back Henderson’s proposal because he always supported other council members’ efforts to serve their district’s needs. At one point, he suggested if Kendree’s legal advice didn’t satisfy them, the county could seek a lawyer who would give them a different answer.
Henderson motioned for the council to move forward with a scaled-back version of the plan, but that motion failed without a second. Instead, council went into executive session to discuss the issue for about 45 minutes. Council agreed to go forward with the planning proposal but decided to move the effective date to Aug. 1.
Blackwell said he supported Henderson’s desire to be responsive to his constituents’ demands..
“Bruce wants to serve you, but he’s not the mayor or the town council of Lake Wylie,” Blackwell said. “You want us to do some things you should really be incorporated to do.”
After the vote, Henderson said he’d like to see the process move faster, but felt like he’d gotten “70 percent of a win” in getting some action on lake development.
“I can say I did not fumble the football,” he said. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster on this the last couple months. Now I feel like I can get to sleep a little earlier.”