Lancaster County trying to manage U.S. 521 growth

Lancaster County is taking steps to manage the growth along the U.S. 521 corridor.

A new overlay district – approved recently by the Lancaster County Council – is aimed at keeping U.S. 521 from becoming another traffic-clogged artery like Cherry Road in Rock Hill, county officials say.

County Council members have made it clear they do not want to restrict uses in the U.S. 521 corridor, county planning director Penelope Karagounis said, but they did want to enhance the area.

So the U.S. 521 corridor overlay district standardizes how the area will look. The district covers U.S. 521 from S.C. 75 (Waxhaw Highway) northward to the state line, and S.C. 160 from U.S. 521 westward to the York/Lancaster county line.

The district will include improved signs and landscaping, as well as more sidewalks.

“Growth is here,” Karagounis said. “We want to try to accomplish some of the goals that we started 14 months ago.”

Restrictions within the district will be in addition to existing zoning for the included properties.

The district will help create a nicer looking entrance into Lancaster County from North Carolina, said Charles Deese, chairman of the Lancaster County Planning Commission.

Indian Land residents want the rapid growth managed, he said. “They want more control over what the area looks like.”

The U.S. 521 district is part of the county’s effort to stay ahead of the increasing growth within the corridor, said Ron Pappas, a Lancaster County planning commissioner who lives in Indian Land. The planning commission has worked closely with the Indian Land Action Council and other local civic groups to ensure the area retains its appeal, he said.

“We are striving to manage the growth along the 521 corridor study area with stronger consideration than may have previously been given,” Pappas said. “We would like to be a model for other communities.”

The new regulations will dictate the aesthetics, such as materials used and architecture, of any new developments. Existing properties will be grandfathered in under the current requirements, Deese said, unless their owners make any changes to their property.

The requirements of the district exclude single-family housing.

The planning commission hired ColeJenest & Stone, a planning consultant based in Raleigh, N.C., to create the overlay district for Indian Land last May, Karagounis said.

Indian Land residents have had opportunities to learn and share their concerns about the overlay district throughout the process, Karagounis said, including a public meeting and open house meetings last year. The planning commission also had workshops beginning in February.

Once the overlay district is final, Pappas said, county planners will need to rezone all the parcels within the area to include the new regulations.

The rezoning process and amendment of the overlay district text are tentatively scheduled for completion in September, Karagounis said, when the provisions of the new district would take effect.

The hope is to create a pedestrian-friendly community with mixed-use developments where residents can easily access amenities, Pappas said.

“We get to create what our world will look like in 20 to 30 years.”