It was a fairly minor change to a fairly major project, but it brought up a bigger question.
How big of an impact will new York County development standards make in the near-term?
The planning commission in York County voted 4-3 on Monday night to approve a change for the third phase of Paddlers Cove in Lake Wylie. That phase had 297 homes proposed. Now the number is 291. Crescent Communities will have three lot sizes, said company vice president James Martin, from 52 to 72 feet wide. Some open space will be lost due to the change, but it remains above the 20 percent total requirement.
“We’re still well above the 20 percent required,” Martin said. “We’re about 30 percent.”
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The figures aren’t at odds with what the county required when Paddlers Cove was approved. Late last year, though, the York County Council voted to increase minimum lot sizes for several types of residential constructionas a way to try managing growth.
Jamie Henrickson, planning commission vice chairwoman, figured a requested change put before her group now would mean subjecting the project to the current rules.
“The new request seems like it should follow, especially since council just did it,” she said. “It’s the first one coming before us.”
It doesn’t. Audra Miller, county planning director, said because of existing agreements on the project, it won’t be subject to new rules. Even when asking for a change.
“There was originally a development agreement for this,” she said.
It’s a similar conversation to one from several years back when some in York County, Fort Mill and Tega Cay brought up the possibility of a building moratorium. None of those communities instituted one. Even if they had, homebuilding wouldn’t have stopped as several projects on the books have buildouts over five, 10 or 20 years. Construction on projects can last long after their county, town or city approval.
At some point, the new York County rules will impact all projects because nothing under construction or approved will predate them. It isn’t the case yet. Miller said Monday night she has no way of knowing right off how many existing projects have wording in their agreements to allow the older, smaller lot sizes.
“It’s so specific on vesting,” she said. “You look at so many issues when a project is or isn’t vested on something.”
The Paddlers Cove project, though, isn’t alone. Others will be built based on the smaller lot sizes. Some may request changes. Aside from being approved after the new rules were put in place, each case coming to the county will depend on what was or wasn’t agreed to already.
“It’s very project-specific,” Miller said.
As for Paddlers Cove, the total project is 396 acres and up to 950 homes or apartments. The first phase had 64 homes on as many acres, with 22 homes on 41 acres in phase two. Future phases allow for up to 250 homes and 300 apartments.