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Developer works to confirm possible Wylie graveyard

Officials with Mattamy Homes expect to know this week whether a possible graveyard will affect plans for new homes off Bonum Road.

Brent Carey, spokesman for Mattamy, said Thursday that his company is still investigating claims of an historic graveyard that was brought to its attention Sept. 22.

Carey expects results this week.

“Mattamy is committed to verifying the nature of the site, and to that end we have hired a professional archeologist to investigate whether a grave site is present and if so, what its historical significance might be,” Carey said.

A surveying company was hired to conduct ground-penetrating radar on the site to determine what’s below ground. Results may not wipe out plans to put homes on the 85-acre property, officials said, but it could change them.

“If it is revealed to be a grave site of historical significance, we would look at options for revising our site plan to avoid the area during development on the property,” Carey said.

Mattamy wants to put 175 homes on the property. Residents in the Bonum Road area want the land left alone, and residential development throughout their area restricted.

They have spoken repeatedly at York County Council meetings the past few months, and they turned out in force at a recent county planning commission meeting.

Preliminary plat approval for Lake Crest, Mattamy’s plan for the Bonum Road property, was scheduled for review at that planning commission meeting. The item was deferred until Nov. 10 pending work on the possible graveyard.

Residents notified Mattamy of their concerns and contacted multiple archaeologists and anthropologists. They brought out elected officials and had an incident report filed with the York County Sheriff’s Office. Since, concern has grown.

“We have found more graves,” said neighboring property owner Matt Burton. “There are probably at least 30 of them. I really think there’s more.”

Burton went out with a Mattamy representative and surveyor last week.

Burton said he’ll push to have the full 85 acres surveyed if the graveyard – which may be from the Revolutionary War era and could possibly include the remains of slaves or Native Americans – is confirmed.

A fence nearby was damaged, as were some stones, leading to the incident report. The fence was repaired and now there are no trespassing signs.

Burton said he hopes the graveyard will halt the Lake Crest plan, but has high hopes for a larger Lake Wylie overlay in helping preserve other areas.

The York County Council was expected to vote on third and final reading Monday on the overlay, which would limit residential development along S.C. 49 from Buster Boyd Bridge past Three Points, to the intersection of S.C. 557 and Oakridge Road.

“The big thing about this is, the overlay has to pass,” Burton said.

Carey said Mattamy isn’t responsible for damage done to the possible graveyard. The incident report lists a broken fence and broken stones that could be headstones or field stones.

Mattamy is working to prevent further damage.

“The site in question has not been disturbed by Mattamy or our representatives, and we have taken reasonable steps to ensure that it will not be disturbed while investigations to verify the site are undertaken,” Carey said.

He added: “These steps include posting the site for ‘no trespassing’ and contacting the sheriff’s office to request a patrol of the area for trespassers.”

Burton said he’s concerned about a single person, contracted by Mattamy, having the final say on whether there are graves at the site.

“If he says it’s not a grave site, I think we need to get a second opinion,” Burton said.