For folks wanting to tap the breaks on residential growth, a 3-2 vote Monday night was a win for Lake Wylie. But one elected official is concerned the decision was ever that close.
“We were one vote away from a decision that conflicts with Council’s priority of growth management,” said York County Councilwoman Allison Love.
The planning commission in York County voted 3-2 against a rezoning for 178 acres at 457 Hwy. 274, near Pole Branch Road. A developer wants to put 178 homes there. The Vista at Lake Wylie would go in beside planned road improvements on S.C. 274, Pole Branch and Three Points, the intersection of S.C. 274, 557 and 49.
Because some of those road improvements aren’t done from a Pennies for Progress referendum in 2011, and others won’t be voted on until the next Pennies decision in November, county planners recommended denying the rezoning. Even the developer submitted a traffic study relying on those improvements to factor in the proposed subdivision’s impact.
Leaving Love to question where support came from when the commission voted.
“I am surprised that two planning commission members voted for higher density even when county staff recommended denial,” Love said. “They are out of touch with what the people of York County want.”
Only five of nine planning commissioners voted. The low number concerned Love as did a longstanding issue, the presence of so many within the land development community on the commission.
“I am concerned that developers on planning commission are approving rezonings that negatively affect the people of Dist. 2,” she said. “When five out of nine members of the commission show up for a meeting and two are developers, the odds are not good for those of us concerned about higher density than allowed currently.”
Jamie Henrickson, the Dist. 2 representative on the planning commission, voted to deny the request as did members James Darby and Tommy Robbins. Voting against that move were Bill Hargrove and Bill Hopper.
As for the Vista project, the planning staff and planning commission decisions are only recommendations. York County Council has final say on the rezoning. Property owners sometimes choose to withdraw requests recommended for denial. The developer Monday asked that theirs wait before going to Council.
“The planning commission is a recommending body on rezonings, so this recommendation will be presented to Council,” said Trish Startup, county spokesperson. “The applicant’s representative stated on the record that he will request the matter not be placed on the council agenda, however, until after the Pennies referendum.”
If the Pennies vote passes in November, it could make for a stronger argument from the developer that all needed road improvements from the traffic study will be completed. Yet, despite some of them passing a Pennies vote six years ago, none of them will be completed.
It’s possible the developer could receive approval for the rezoning with a development agreement stating, for instance, construction wouldn’t begin until some or all of the road improvements are in place.
Asking the county to hold off before sending the request to Council isn’t too unusual.
“The applicant has every right to request the matter be deferred,” Startup said. “We would, therefore, not place the matter on the Council agenda until December for first reading.”