Mark Sleeper wanted to find out exactly what Duke Energy’s plan was to sell 348 acres in the Concord Road area along Lake Wylie.
That proved to be a little more difficult than he expected.
“I was trying to find out what the plan is, but they made it real clear they don’t have a plan yet,” he said.
Duke Energy hosted nearly 200 Lake Wylie and York County residents during a forum Wednesday evening at the Clover School District Community YMCA. The aim was to educate homeowners about the company’s large tract of property, and how development on that area might affect the community.
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Several citizens told Duke officials they were highly concerned about how future development on the tract could lead to slower evacuation times away from Catawba Nuclear Station, which sits on Concord Road.
Sleeper said if developers created residential communities on the Concord peninsula, that could lead to 3,000 to 6,000 new residents, thereby clogging roads in the event of an emergency.
“We’ve got a real valid concern with safety issues,” Sleeper said. “Even day-to-day travels. What if a hurricane comes in, what if the bridge has physical problems? All of that is exacerbated by this.”
We’ve got a real valid concern with safety issues. Even day-to-day travels. What if a hurricane comes in, what if the bridge has physical problems? All of that is exacerbated by this.
Rick Jiran, Duke Energy’s South Carolina vice president for community relations, said evacuation efforts are led by York County Emergency Management, but said that Duke Energy, York County and state/federal agencies practice responding to simulated emergencies to become more effective.
York County will monitor the potential sale and work with any developer who purchases the tract, according to Chuck Haynes, director of York County Emergency Management.
“Obviously, the citizens are concerned and engaged in what might become of the peninsula,” Haynes said. “Safety of the citizens is something we take very seriously.”
The 348-acre tract is on the market, according to Jiran, but there is no asking price at this time. He said Duke was reaching out to the community to help form a comprehensive path forward, rather than forming one on its own to force onto the area.
High-density housing would create “danger” in the Concord Road community, said former York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant. He said he hoped that the York County Council “steps up and protects that neighborhood.”
“The major concern is public safety,” he said. “There’s no way you can go in and have a development with high density and be able to evacuate them on a two-lane bridge. It’s impossible to do.”
Our nice, quiet country area is turning into a city, and most of us don’t want to live in a city.
Resident Karen Newsom said she was worried that a possible development would increase the potential for crime, put undue strain on the local school district, and drive up traffic.
“And just the general feeling of the neighborhood,” Newsom said. “Our nice, quiet country area is turning into a city, and most of us don’t want to live in a city.”
This is the same property that Duke Energy explored selling in 2004. However, it delayed the sale so it could be considered by stakeholders as part of the Catawba-Wateree hydro relicensing process.
The property was reviewed for potential preservation and protection options, according to Duke, but the relicensing stakeholder team decided it did not offer sufficient environmental and public recreation benefits.
Jiran said Wednesday’s forum was the first step of communication between the company and the community. He said the night was about gathering feedback so they could work with the homeowners, the county, and the eventual buyer to create a “win-win.”
“I think quite a lot of people were coming here tonight, expecting to hear answers,” Jiran said. “But the reality is that we wanted to hear was questions.”