By a 4-1 vote Dec. 8, Fort Mill added almost 30 acres and a plan for 100 new homes on Kimbrell Road.
Council voted to annex more than 28 acres on the intersection of Kimbrell and North Dobys Bridge roads, formerly the home of Bill Kimbrell. The second vote entered the town into a development agreement for the property.
Councilwoman Guynn Savage cast the lone dissenting vote on both motions. Councilman Tom Adams wasn’t present, and one at-large Council seat sits empty after the resignation of former Councilman Tom Spratt.
Savage said will not vote for new developments on roads with traffic at or above capacity, as is the case with S.C. 160 and North Dobys Road.
“They are both above the standard or average for that particular area,” she said.
Savage added her concern wasn’t for the particular development, as Development Solutions Group came back with numerous changes requested by Council and the town planning commission.
“The developers of this property have bent over backward,” Savage said.
Residents, several of them speaking at multiple public meetings prior, opposed the annexation.
“This is not something that’s going to be good for the area,” said Tom Nalley, who lives across from the development. “This is not something that’s going to be good for Kimbrell Road, the Dobys Bridge corridor.”
Residents expressed traffic concerns, but also the effect on property values because existing lots along Kimbrell are significantly larger than those proposed in the new development.
“It’s not a plan that’s suitable for the residents of Kanawha Court and Kimbrell,” said resident Kay Johnson. “It’s a plan that will change the look of the area.”
John Baker, who lives across from the access to the new development, said resident concerns are many, and unanimous.
“All of us in the neighborhood are flat out against it,” he said.
Bryan Tuttle with The Tuttle Co. represented the developer. Tuttle said historic trees will be saved, sidewalks installed along Kimbrell and buffers put up, in addition to a $50,000 donation to the town. The initial plan of 160 townhomes was whittled down to 100 homes, and all concessions from the developer were put into writing.
“We memorialized these commitments in the form of a development agreement,” he said.
Tuttle said construction won’t begin until July, and it will be March or April of 2016 “before we get the first house ready.”
Full build-out won’t be until 2018, well after the anticipated completion of the southern bypass Tuttle said will alleviate many traffic concerns.
“We feel that we have made some real progress,” he said.
A follow-up traffic study was done about three weeks after the opening of the latest bypass phase and Doby’s Bridge Elementary School. Both projects helped reduce traffic near the Kimbrell property, Tuttle said.
“We saw a significant decrease in the peak period, and that’s everybody’s concern,” he said.
Nalley said those traffic studies aren’t accounting for already difficult traffic on Kimbrell Road.
“These people have to come down Kimbrell Road first, and always,” he said. “The bypass isn’t going to do a thing in there. That’s the traffic we’re talking about.”
Resident Al Rogat, who doesn’t live near Kimbrell Road, but opposed the plan, took issue with the idea presented that the project will appeal to seniors, who bring fewer cars and have less of an effect on schools. Without limiting the project to seniors, targeting them as buyers gives little assurance, Rogat said.
“Senior housing is less traffic,” he said. “Senior-targeted means nothing.”
Councilman Larry Huntley said it’s “not a true statement” that Council approves whatever development comes its way, but that growing communities like Fort Mill will face growth issues. When Council approved an apartment project at the top of Main Street, there was concern it would cause gridlock, Huntley said, which didn’t happen.
Part of living in Fort Mill is handling growth requests, he said, and in this case the developer agreed to changes.
“They met every one of our requests,” Huntley said.
Tuttle said when the project is complete, its impact on Fort Mill will be positive.
“We tried to do our best to give you something you can be proud of,” he said.