York County Council last week wouldn’t support a moratorium on building in Lake Wylie.
A moratorium wasn’t on the July 21 agenda and wasn’t advertised to the public.
“This issue has already been tried in the courts,” said Michael Kendree, county attorney. “You can’t pass a moratorium by a simple motion.”
The legality didn’t stop Lake Wylie voices, including Councilman Bruce Henderson, from asking. Ten community members called for rezoning along Bonum Road, where they say the county has one final chance to create public amenities or demand lower density development before apartments and homes take the last available properties from Buster Boyd Bridge to S.C. 274.
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“We need to do this for a period of time,” Henderson said of a moratorium. “Look at all this development that’s gotten way out of hand. You’re going to overwhelm the school system. We’re going to overwhelm the traffic issues there.”
Henderson estimated the need for a moratorium at “six months or so.” Part of his and neighbors’ concerns are environmental.
“If we keep moving at this pace, we’re going to destroy a lake we get water from,” Henderson said. “It’s going to be devastating to the lake. And, we will be sorry.”
Part was a concern for traffic.
“Folks will avoid Lake Wylie and 49 just because they can’t stand to be there,” Henderson said. “You’re going to run people out.”
Among the 10 speakers were Margaret Blackwell and Diana Miller, who want to slow growth on about 240 acres on Bonum Road. Blackwell argued the area has “apartment complex after apartment complex, and we are becoming a mecca for dense housing,” which, she says, puts a strain on jails and schools.
“York County doesn’t have enough space now to house prisoners, don’t have enough courtrooms,” Blackwell said. “And Council keeps adding to the problem by approving almost every rezoning and dense development that comes before you.”
Blackwell asked that a moratorium on the S.C. 49 corridor be put in place “until the infrastructure has caught up.” Miller asked council members to be more proactive with the available land. Otherwise Lake Wylie is “going to wind up with a community that no one wants to live in,” she said.
“There (are) no parks,” Miller said. “There’s no place to go. If you don’t realize the importance of amenities to a community – once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Resident David Harris said putting in hundreds more residents through apartments, an available use on those acres, would stress the lakefront area beyond what it can handle.
“That’s going to change the entire demeanor of the lake,” he said.
Council members said they’re open to more discussion on the moratorium issue.
“Your concerns are duly noted and they are legitimate concerns,” said Chairman Britt Blackwell. “Let’s just make sure we do it right.”
Any chance it happens?
Councilman Chad Williams said a moratorium merits discussion. Councilman Curwood Chappell said “there’s such a thing as overgrowth” and Councilman William “Bump” Roddey would support putting a moratorium discussion on a future agenda.
Roddey said a moratorium would have to provide start and end dates, and would take time to implement so it doesn’t “blow up a deal” already in place.
“It takes anywhere from six months, nine months to two to three years to get that plan out,” Roddey said of land development. “We don’t know what’s already in the works.”
Councilman Michael Johnson said he likes the idea Henderson brought up, but thinks it needs time to develop. Johnson’s district includes S.C. 160 near Tega Cay, an area with similar traffic concerns.
“I share your pain on roads, and I understand the need to get a handle on what’s happening in our communities,” he said.
The task would be distinguishing whether new homes or businesses would be impacted, and accounting for permits already in the approval process.
“If we’re going to implement a moratorium, I think it needs to be extremely spelled out what it is, where it is,” Johnson said. “It’s not enough to say a corridor. It needs to define the roads, the areas.”
Not all the council members wanted more discussion on the idea. Councilman Joe Cox didn’t approve of a county government overstepping its bounds in limiting what property owners can do with their land. The concerned Bonum Road residents don’t own the property they want down-zoned, or more restricted to lower density development.
“Each individual (who) owns property has the right to do something with that property they have,” Cox said. “You’re basically telling some farmer who’s done with farming, whose children have decided not to farm – what do you tell that guy who’s paid his taxes all his life?”
While Henderson pushed for a faster pace toward the moratorium, it’s likely at least some of the Bonum Road property could be developed before any restrictions are set. Almost 86 of those acres belong to Mattamy Homes, purchased by the company in June. A new residential community is planned there.
The remaining acres belong to Bonum Road LLC, where zoning allows for apartment and other housing uses.
At the meeting, council members authorized staff to enter a contract for the 10-year update on the county’s 2025 Comprehensive Plan. Council members also authorized money for York County Forever, a land preservation group. Both efforts could be alternate routes, council members said, for residents to work toward future land preservation in Lake Wylie.