York County planners signed off on the first phase of a major 842-home residential development in Lake Wylie.
However, their attitude toward the rest of the plan has some concerned over possible legal action.
The York County Planning Commission on Monday voted 3-2 to approve the first of a two-phase build-out of a 432-acre development off Daimler Boulevard, between S.C. 49 and 274, south of Five Points.
Phase 1 of the residential project, called Westport, is expected to add 570 single-family units in northern York County. The contractor, Development Solutions Group, expects the project to be finished by 2021.
The second phase, which DSG said could be complete by 2024, would finish the project with the other 272 units.
Planning commission members, concerned about the effects on traffic and clearcutting, voted Monday to force DSG and developer Kent Olson to submit a traffic impact and access study, or TIA, before beginning the second phase.
That could lead to legal action against the county, said planning commission chair Walter Heinsohn. He said he didn’t know how the developer felt about Monday’s decision.
“They could appeal to the Common Pleas court and have the court declare the plans as submitted are and should be approved, despite the commission’s actions,” Heinsohn said.
Westport was originally approved for more than 2,000 acres and allowed up to 1,700 units, including apartments. It was the property where York County envisioned Daimler and other companies would bring as many as 3,000 jobs.
We reach a point of diminishing returns on any development like this. The accumulation of new residents like this will have real negative impacts on (Highway) 274.
York County Council member Allison Love
South Carolina gave Daimler Trucks a $2 million grant in 2008 to buy land for an office building in the hopes of landing the company.
However, much of the land has been undeveloped since Daimler decided to expand its current headquarters in Portland, Ore., rather than move to South Carolina.
York County approved a legally binding 20-year development contract for the land in 2008. The developer can now move ahead with construction plans for Phase 1.
The property is owned by Crescent Resources, but was later contracted out to DSG, according to Olson. Olson has planned to significantly lower the impact to less than half of the original proposal. Also, he plans to go strictly single-family.
The property is currently zoned for mixed-use development, including residential, commercial, civic and industrial. Homes likely will price from the low $200,000 to high $300,000.
“More commercial will follow this progress,” Olson told the commission. “We would all love to see jobs there. We know people want to live in a smart development where they live near to where they work and shop.”
York County Council member Allison Love said the surrounding community has concerns ranging from soil runoff into the lake, clearcutting to make way for the new homes and backed-up traffic.
A TIA on the full Westport development finalized in January determined several intersections would degrade to poor road conditions during one or more peak driving hours, should the community become a reality.
Three intersections, including Charlotte Highway at S.C. 274, S.C. 274 at Campbell Road, and Charlotte Highway at North Site Access, are expected to exhibit delays greater than a minute and are impacted by the addition of site traffic, the TIA states.
Several mitigation efforts would be funded and constructed by the developer, according to the TIA. That would include widening Charlotte Highway to provide left-turn lanes in both northbound and southbound directions.
There also are plans, as approved in the prior planning development, for the developer to create a new roadway between Charlotte Highway and S.C. 274 to provide a two-lane divided cross-section.
7 Under Phase 2 conditions, seven of the study area intersections degrade to LOS (level of service) E or F during one or more of the peak hours studied in the TIA
Love said she supports the developer’s attempt to decrease the density of the property, plus more than 95 acres of open space, including a picnic shelter. There also will be more than a mile of walking trail, which could become part of the Carolina Thread Trail.
“The developer has made a real effort to lower the density,” Love said. “But we reach a point of diminishing returns on any development like this. The accumulation of new residents like this will have real negative impacts on 274. My goal is the represent the people and do what the people want.”
Heinsohn argued last month if a development complies with the originally-approved development agreement, the county is obligated to approve it fully.
“If a property is zoned for subdivisions and a developer comes along with a subdivision plan that meets all the county requirements, we have no choice,” Heinsohn said. “He’s complied with the law all the way down the line. We have to approve it.”
The commission first took up the issue in May, but chose to defer it for further discussion until its next meeting. The members received legal advice from county attorney Michael Kendree in an executive session meeting before the vote.
570 Phase 1 of the Westport residential project is expected to add 570 new single-family units in Lake Wylie
Love says it’s possible York County could be hearing from lawyers in the near future.
“Probably, the next step is a letter from an attorney,” Love said. “It’s what happens when somebody doesn’t get their way, fully. Who knows where we go from here? This is probably the first time something like this has happened. But I’m proud of the planning commission members who stood their ground and voted for what they thought was best for York County.”