The rezoning of two large townhouse developments on U.S. 21 Bypass could mean more assurance, town leaders say, in the event of disaster.
The Fort Mill Town Council passed the first reading at an Aug. 25 meeting on five ordinances that, combined, would create three new zoning districts, change what can be rebuilt in certain districts and swap three properties from highway commercial to one of the new districts.
“All five of these ordinances are related,” said Joe Cronin, town planning director. “This is in regards to the townhome communities on (U.S.) 21.”
One rezoning impacts Cascades at River Crossing, a townhouse subdivision of 216 units on just more than 24 acres. Another involves Townes at River Crossing, which is 144 parcels on almost 14 acres. A third involves an existing church on less than 2 acres.
Never miss a local story.
The existing highway commercial zoning doesn’t account for the townhouse communities, so if there were a fire or other loss, units might be gone for good. Under current rules, a fire that takes 50 percent or more of a building means the building can’t be replaced.
The new zoning would allow residents to rebuild.
The church building had a similar issue in which town code might now allow for rebuilding. The church property would be zoned, pending a second reading, with the same new designation as the townhouse properties beside it.
“If we didn’t make it the same as these other two, you’d need another district,” Cronin said.
The issue of rebuilding isn’t just about insurance, Cronin said, but more about banking. Banks don’t want to lend for sales on properties that could be erased by disaster and never rebuilt.
“Some of the sales of those properties have fallen through,” Cronin said.
Town code goes back to the 1960s. The recent issue came up in a town planning discussion, leading some to wonder whether the townhouses represent an isolated issue.
“We discovered this,” said Councilman Tom Spratt. “Are there any more?”
Cronin said the town would consider similar efforts if the issue arises elsewhere. Possibilities include setback rules in Sandy Pointe, which was built out before it was annexed into town, or Springfield, where zonings could revert after a set time.
“This is really a blanket protection,” Cronin said.
Also at its Aug. 25 meeting, the council finalized three ordinances, including one on a development plan for property on Pleasant and Vista roads. That project would bring more than 900 units but hinges on several infrastructure improvements, including a traffic signal upgrade.
The other two ordinances involve how and when outdoor speakers can be used by restaurants or other establishments.