Fort Mill Town Council voted to Imagine Fort Mill. They’ll leave the imagining of Indian Land to Lancaster County.
On Monday night, Council approved the name of its new comprehensive plan. It’ll be called Imagine Fort Mill and address land use, transportation and other development factors through 2040. It will replace the last plan approved in 2008.
While picking the name — other candidates were Refresh Fort Mill and Hometown 2040 — took some discussion, more came on how far to broaden the plan area. Lancaster County updated its comprehensive plan in 2014. Fort Mill could have included the Panhandle area of northern Lancaster County in its own plan by using largely the same information.
“It would basically be a reflection of what Lancaster County did,” said Joe Cronin, town planning director.
Mayor Guynn Savage said she would rather stick to covering areas “that we have some jurisdictional control over.”
“It’s just a larger area,” she said of adding the Panhandle, “and we have enough to do on our own.”
Cronin said having the Indian Land area in the plan could help if a development comes spanning both areas. Councilman James Shirey saw value in adding the Panhandle. Growth along S. Dobys Bridge Road and U.S. 521 is happening, he said, and it would help to avoid putting competing or duplicate land uses right on top of one another at the county line.
“It’s steadily moving toward our border,” Shirey said.
A comprehensive plan isn’t a binding document when it comes time for land use decisions. It guides them. The Fort Mill plan goes up to municipal limits in Rock Hill and Tega Cay. What makes Indian Land different is, for now, it is unincorporated. Much like the surrounding parts of York County already in Fort Mill’s plan.
“Probably about half the area that is included in our current plan is unincorporated,” Cronin said.
York County approved its latest plan last year. Zoning and related issues between Fort Mill and unincorporated York County come up often. Developers proposing an annexation into Fort Mill often speak of how many more residential or other units they could put on the property if it remains in the unincorporated county.
Both unincorporated York County and Indian Land are part of other plans.
“Lancaster does, as York County does,” Cronin said. “They do a countywide comprehensive plan.”
A comprehensive plan helps town leaders decide what land uses fit where. Sometimes land use requests — a new residential subdivision, a mixed use annexation — are fairly common. Sometimes they aren’t. Like the request Council heard Monday for a home at the corner of Confederate and Mack streets where eyed for conversion to a residential care facility.
“This is the first one I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Cronin said.
Edward Craig said he wants to expand the 3,200-square-foot home to allow seniors another option from larger care institutions.
“It wasn’t what I’d want to have for myself,” Craig said. “When you have 100 beds, you lost that sense of community.”
State law allows facilities for up to nine mentally or physically handicapped residents to be treated, for zoning purposes, like a home. The facility would have a nurse, activities director and 24-hour care.
The new comprehensive plan will tackle a continuing growth trend in Fort Mill. Council heard the latest update Monday night stating more than $2 million collected in municipal, fire and recreation impact fees. Those fees are charged on new construction in town.
While many additions come through annexation, Savage is quick to point out the town doesn’t solicit or mandate them.
“We do not go out and aggressively annex,” she said.
All annexations come by a single or small number of owners asking, or when a community petitions to annex itself. Which is pretty standard, Cronin said, statewide.
“The overwhelming number of annexations in South Carolina come at the request of the property owner,” he said.
Community members will help create the new plan in Fort Mill. The main work will come in the next six months, though completion won’t come at least until late this year.
“It’ll be a lot of work and a lot of effort by the community and staff to get it done,” Savage said.