CHESTER -- A proposed Richburg housing project took a step forward Tuesday night, getting closer to what leaders hope will be the first Chester County subdivision built in several years.
The county's planning commission voted 3-2 to approve a zoning change that would allow the land to be developed in lots smaller than 2 acres.
The project involves 87 acres on Wylie's Mill Road that the property owner hopes will become 60 lots of single-family homes, according to the county's planning director and a consultant for the land owner.
County leaders also want this to be the first of many housing projects.
"The hope is it's going to stir up more (subdivisions)," said Mack Paul, the county's planning director.
R&A LLC of Ohio owns the property, said Steven Fourés, a consultant to the company.
Governmental hurdles, including final approval from the Chester County Council, mean the first house won't be built for at least a year.
Fourés told the planning commission that the property owner had done extensive research on the land, including environmental tests and gathering input from residents about the county's development.
Rather than stuffing the property with lots, Fourés said the company developed a design that would be sensitive the natural contour lines of the property. The lots would vary in size, with the smallest measuring about an acre and the largest 2.64 acres.
He said he'd heard talk about Charlotte and Rock Hill residents possibly moving to Chester County and thought this project could be used as a "standard for other zoning requests."
The main objection from the commission was one member's concern that the property could not support the 60 wells and septic tanks.
But the commission approved the zoning, which Paul said was due in part to the research the company had invested in the project.
Other zoning change requests related to subdivisions -- including one across the street from the R&A property -- have been denied by the commission, he said.
Planning officials aren't aware of any subdivisions that have been built in the county since 2004 and this is the first one Paul said he'd seen approved for a rezoning request since he took the planning director's post earlier this year.
The Richburg area is where county leaders expect to see population growth, partly because of its access to Interstate 77.
County officials have said they expect the possibility of tremendous growth from several large proposed housing developments. Those proposals could bring more than 12,000 residents to the county over the next 10 to 20 years.