Survey’s responders said York County makes them feel ‘unimportant.’ How do you feel?

Residential growth and its impact is hot topic with York County residents

York County officials wonder if a specific housing study will help in its search for answers to issues in high residential growth areas like Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Lake Wylie.
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York County officials wonder if a specific housing study will help in its search for answers to issues in high residential growth areas like Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Lake Wylie.

Dumpsters blocking curb appeal, public input too late in the game, an understanding of current housing that might impact residential growth to come. All issues one York County Council member wants addressed if her constituents are to feel valued by the county.

Councilwoman Allison Love said by the time 700 or so folks responded to the recent online survey she created, about half stated the county makes them feel “unimportant.”

“I think we need to fix this, not only as a council but just as a community,” Love told fellow council members at the group’s most recent meeting last month.

“How would you like to feel unimportant to the county that you live in?”

Love and Councilwoman Christi Cox sit on a zoning committee they hope can make some changes countywide. For one, they’ve asked county staff to look into a housing study. The county has studied variety of topics in recent months, from stormwater to impact fees to hospitality tax spending. A housing study, Love and Cox say, could prove useful in growth management and economic development.

“We just asked staff to let us know what a housing study would entail, and what the cost of that would be, and how will it help us,” Love said. “Basically what is it going to tell us?”

County planning has data on incoming homes and apartments. Sources like the U.S. Census Bureau have estimates on current housing figures and trends. But a specific housing study isn’t something the county — in search of answers for high residential growth areas like Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Lake Wylie — has done.

“They don’t believe we’ve ever done one,” Love said of her conversation with staff. “So, what would it tell us and is it going to help us with growth management?”

Another item the committee is looking at involves public input here, compared to in other areas. Or how the council can get the information it needs from the public, sooner.

“It had to do with the process change to allow public involvement at the outset, before everything had been decided,” Cox said.

Then, there is a major growth factor council worked more than a year to settle. Which Love feels isn’t settled yet.

“We would like to pull back the Dist. 2 (urban service boundary), and expand the Lake Wylie overlay ordinance,” Love said. “And put a little more meat into the wording of that ordinance.”

Council and quite a few members of the public spent months debating the urban services boundary as part of the county comprehensive plan. The boundary is a point where leaders see the ability to extend public infrastructure, from water and sewer to roads, to allow for growth. Many in the Rock Hill area spoke out the past couple of years on the boundary’s impact to Dave Lyle Boulevard.

While Love represents Lake Wylie and wants to boundary issue looked into there, Cox said she isn’t alone.

“From all of the meetings that council had had with staff on the revisions to the comprehensive plan, that all of them needed to be included in any discussions,” Cox said. “And staff was going to get back to us on that, for all of the districts.”

Council Chairman Britt Blackwell has concerns bringing the boundary back up, given how long it’s been a topic of debate.

“I hope a lot of this is just final housekeeping, because we’ve gone through all of this for a long period of time,” he said. “A little tweak here or there, kind of thing, maybe. I think we need to accept all the hard work over that 18 months and move forward.”

Love said she isn’t as concerned with how long the boundary issue takes to resolve as long as the county gets it right.

“Until we get it right, we’re going to be tweaking it, as far as I’m concerned for District 2,” she said. “And there are some big issues that I feel like need to be looked at. And I feel like my job is to request those tweaks.”

Love points to Copper Premium Pub, a fairly new and popular restaurant in the middle of Lake Wylie. A mulch yard wraps around it, she said, with no requirement for a paved driveway and a black chain link fence surrounding a retention pond. The Goddard School is a recent addition to Lake Wylie, too. Love points to a dumpster and pump station right in front of them.

“This is not what our overlay ordinance calls for in Lake Wylie,” Love said. “We have an ordinance that is absolutely not being followed.”

Love said the overlay involves signage requirements, but also the overall look and feel of the community.

“The things that I’m asking for our critical needs,” she said. “It’s not like I’m sitting on Santa asking for more toys than the next guy. These are critical needs for Lake Wylie and how Lake Wylie looks is, it’s going downhill.”

She also isn’t interested in the idea of Lake Wylie becoming its own town or city to solve problems Love believes the county, should.

“The argument of y’all should just incorporate, that continues to come up,” she said. “I am 110 percent not for the incorporation of Lake Wylie because we can’t afford to incorporate. We need the county umbrella. We appreciate the county umbrella. And we are part of the county.”