New apartment construction will be restricted in Rock Hill for the next nine months after the City Council on Monday night unanimously approved a moratorium on multifamily development.
The move to put a temporary stop to apartment development comes after a busy year for builders in Rock Hill. Construction is underway on four apartment complexes that will bring 624 residential units. An additional 608 units are on the way after developers recently gained approvals from city officials.
The moratorium applies to new construction of apartments, condos and townhomes across the city, with some exceptions. Residences specifically designated as “senior housing” or development plans already on file with the city will be allowed to proceed. Multifamily development proposed around Rock Hill’s downtown area and in the city’s former textile area near West White Street also will be permitted.
Multifamily building projects underway in the city include new apartments at Riverwalk, near Interstate 77 and Cherry Road; the Gateways at Galleria, Windsor Apartments and The Arbors at Manchester Village, near Dave Lyle Boulevard; and Waterford Terrace Apartments, near Waterford Business Park.
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City leaders said Monday they’re expecting to see “significant economic growth in the coming years” and an uptick in multifamily housing development after years of an economic recession. Apartment complexes and townhome developments can strain Rock Hill’s public services and infrastructure, some on the council said.
City leaders are trying to get out in front of the next wave of growth with an appropriate zoning strategy.
Councilman John Black spoke up for the multifamily moratorium, saying he’d received phone calls from some in Rock Hill who are concerned that the restrictions are the “first step” to limiting other development in the city. The council, Black said, isn’t planning to block other development.
Two owners of Yorkshire Apartments objected Monday night to the council’s moratorium, saying it will likely keep them from new construction they’re planning on their property. David White, an attorney and business partner at Yorkshire, said it seems unfair for the small project the company has planned.
Currently, Yorkshire has 182 units on Lucas Street. For years, White said, the business has contemplated adding a building with eight one-bedroom apartments.
His business partner, Lee Thomasson, said he’s already spent money planning for the addition that could now be in jeopardy because of the moratorium. It’s unclear whether Thomasson and White have any permits or development plans on file with Rock Hill’s planning department.
Thomasson told council members that the moratorium could negatively affect residents looking to move to Rock Hill. Now is an ideal time for financing apartment building construction, he said, and the window of opportunity could close after the moratorium is lifted.
“You’re going to have a housing need here that’s beyond what you can do,” he said.
With some exceptions to the moratorium, “it’s not a total freeze,” said Councilman Jim Reno, in support of the restrictions.
During the moratorium, city planners say they’ll review construction rules and standards for multifamily development. It’s expected that planners, along with the city’s Planning Commission, will make some recommendations to the council about monitoring multifamily development moving forward.
City officials said Monday that public meetings will be held to gather businesses’ and residents’ comments before any permanent changes are made to multifamily development regulations. The 270-day moratorium will automatically expire unless the City Council opts to extend it by an extra three months.