It was a transformative agreement to set the shape of Lake Wylie, and now it could be changing.
A decade ago, York County Council worked with landowners in Lake Wylie on a planned development agreement impacting more than 2,000 acres. The idea was to take the heaviest development — industrial, large-scale business, apartments — away from the lake and put it onto major roads and intersections better able to handle it. Crescent Resources owned most of the land along S.C. 274, near the Five Points intersection.
The agreement also set aside land for the county, now being developed into a sports park.
The agreement allowed for considerable residential growth, too. Much of it with an eye toward up to 3,000 jobs the county envisioned Daimler would bring to the S.C. 274 corridor. The company eventually decided to expanded its existing facility in Portland, Oregon, instead.
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Now that a major piece of that residential growth nears, the county wants to take a look at what was approved and what may make more sense for the area -- still largely a bedroom community -- now.
“I would just like for it to be opened back up,” Councilwoman Allison Love said about the agreement with Crescent when council met Dec. 18. “All of the parties would have to come to the table, and we would open it up for a discussion to do what we feel like is a better thing.”
Love said she already spoke with Crescent, and that the company is agreeable to change. Part of the concern arose when plans came through the planning pipeline for Westport, an 842 single-family home development. Many development agreements put some sort of cap on how many residential units can be built. Either a hard cap, or a limit one based on lot size or other factors which would limit the number. Yet the planned development agreement from a decade ago referenced minimum, not maximum, requirements.
That minimum requirement called for more than 3,000 new homes.
So the Westport plan to put 842 houses rather than the 1,700-mix of houses and apartments it could have included on the same 432-acre property, would only provide so much relief to the larger planned development standard.
“Even though that developer had cut back on the number of homes that he was going to put there, the required number — which is about 3,700 — would still have to be met,” Love said.
Even the reduced Westport plan drew ire, with multiple deferrals from the county planning commission before that group approved part of the plan with contingencies on the rest. It echoed a sentiment in much of the community that residential growth is coming too fast for public infrastructure to keep pace. Lake Wylie resident and Westport developer Kent Olson himself said when announcing the plan last February that he understood market changes and community needs, which is why he pitched single-family homes and fewer total units.
“We’re sensitive to the concerns of the locals,” Olson said then. “We did not utilize, maximize, what the density of the development would allow. We’re interested in smart development.”
Love said her more recent conversations with Crescent yielded similar responses.
“They were not aware that there was a minimum number of residences that would need to go there,” she said, “and they are willing to reduce that number.”
Love didn’t say what that reduced number may be, or what mix it might yield of single-family homes, apartments and townhomes. Because Crescent has its own development company now and is more hands-on throughout the process than the company may have been a decade ago, Love is confident a sit down between the county and company can produce results.
“They will more than likely be developing those properties rather than selling them to another developer,” Love said.
Council unanimously voted to allow county staff to negotiate with Crescent and other involved landowners. Councilman Michael Johnson, who represents the Fort Mill and Tega Cay areas brimming with just as much new residential growth as Love’s constituent base in Lake Wylie, said the move makes perfect sense.
“Anybody who wants to reduce the amount of units, residential units, in places like Lake Wylie and Fort Mill-Tega Cay, I don’t see how you argue with it,” he said. “So I have no issue with that at all.”
Other council members agreed.
“As long as both sides see benefit in opening it up, I have no problem with it,” said Councilman Chad Williams.
Any major change still will require all involved parties to re-sign on the dotted line.
“I agree,” Councilman Robert Winkler said. “I’m not going to argue with reducing it. If they’re willing to come to the table and negotiate.”