A developer looking to build 480 new homes in a rural area of western Rock Hill said he’s willing to meet with concerned neighbors.
LGI Homes wants to rezone nearly 224 acres near Eastview Road and Plantation Hills Drive to build a single-family residential subdivision called Stoneridge Hills. The proposed site would include 480 single-family lots, which LGI values from $250,000-$350,000.
The project site is on the east side of Eastview Road, north of Plantation Hills Drive and opposite of Holland Road in Rock Hill.
Neighbors say the area surrounding the site is rural and relatively peaceful, with homes on at least a half-acre or larger.
Nearly 130 neighbors came out to Rock Hill’s Planning Commission meeting Tuesday to oppose the rezoning. After two hours of debate, the commission voted unanimously to defer action to allow both sides to work together toward an amiable agreement.
“We really appreciate the crowd coming out and giving feedback,” said Bobby MacNaughton, senior land acquisition analyst for LGI Homes. “We’re still excited about the potential of the project. We’re optimistic to work with the homeowners here and find an amicable way forward.”
The planning commission could consider the issue in February. If the commission makes a decision, the issue would go to Rock Hill City Council later that month for consideration.
“I know you don’t like to come out here, listen to two hours of discussion and hear a deferral,” said Randy Graham, vice chair of the planning commission. “But we want to give everyone an ample opportunity to solve problems. I see a pretty broad chasm between the developers and neighbors.”
The site is currently zoned single-family residential with a maximum density allowed of three units per acre. LGI says it meets the requirements by planning for 2.2 units per acre, plus about 80 acres of green space.
Developers held a neighborhood meeting Dec. 14 at York Preparatory Academy to discuss the proposed plan.
“The main point for the site is marketability,” said Sara Shirley, project land planner for American Engineering. “We have a market that we cater to that likes smaller lot sizes. They want to be in the city without a big lot surrounding the site.”
Bill Meyer, the city’s planning and development director, said LGI is more likely to fit 300-325 homes on the property, which is shaped like a boot. The property includes creeks and other natural elements, which make it hard to plan out lots, he said.
The neighbors say the increased traffic will further harm aging streets. A traffic study completed between May-August 2017 shows the proposed development could generate an extra 4,570 two-way daily trips on the surrounding roads.
The traffic impact study shows the worst backup will center on McConnells Highway (S.C. 322) at Eastview Road/Falls Road in the morning rush hour. Currently, the road is operating at a level of service “E” on a grading scale from A to F. Should the 480-home project be built, the study estimates the road will dip into an “F” rating and give drivers delays of more than two minutes.
Eastview Road at Holland Road will also drop to an “F” rating if the new homes are built, according to the traffic study.
“I’m not gonna lie to you,” said Todd Salvagin, traffic engineer with SRS Engineers, “it isn’t going to be hunky-dory.”
Sandra Mathis, who lives on nearby Mathis Road, says the traffic that leads to or from nearby S.C. 5 is already a danger to children in the neighborhood. She said drivers have been cited for driving 70 mph through her neighborhood.
“The traffic is so bad, we don’t allow our kids in the front yard anymore,” she said. “And there is no way our roads can start to do half of the traffic that could be happening.”
The property is in the attendance zones of Finley Road Elementary, Saluda Trail Middle and South Pointe High schools. York Preparatory Academy, a public charter school serving kindergarteners through 12th grade, is less than a mile away.
Developers say access to the site is planned via a single access to or from Eastview Road and two new drives to or from Plantation Hills Drive. They say they can help mitigate some of the traffic by installing turn lanes on Eastview Road, Plantation Hills Drive and onto Mathis Road.
Larry Schindel, vice president of Stoneridge Lakes Homeowners’ Association, a 180-home community near the area, said during a Dec. 2 meeting that the proposed community stands in opposition to Rock Hill’s long-range planning goals. He said the neighborhood sits in Rock Hill’s edge management district, which is characterized in Rock Hill’s Focus 2020 Comprehensive Plan as an area where the city wants to limit development.
The comprehensive plan acts as a policy guide for Rock Hill that sets the long-term vision for the city. All local governments in South Carolina are required to develop such a plan, review it every five years and update it every 10 years.
“We’re OK to talk and to see what we can do to be creative in development,” Schindel said. “The chair asked us to be creative and see if we can find a way to meet the desires of the developers, the citizens and the commission.”
Allison Love, a York County Council member, spoke at the meeting to represent the county residents who surround the site.
She said she didn’t feel hopeful the delay would result in changes from either side.
“It’s just a delay,” she said. “We’ll be right back where we are tonight.”
If the plan is approved, developers say they could begin construction this year and expect full build-out by 2023.