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Going small: Are Lake Wylie residents getting the plan they’ve been begging for?

Debris flows through Lake Wylie amid upstream flooding

Flooding in North Carolina and South Carolina includes near flood stage in Lake Wylie, where debris is flowing through the main channel.
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Flooding in North Carolina and South Carolina includes near flood stage in Lake Wylie, where debris is flowing through the main channel.

One size doesn’t fit all in York County. So the county is going smaller.

After several recent instances showing just how different roads, homes, development trends and growth pressures can be in different parts of the county, staff is picking areas where new development rules may be needed.

Lake Wylie is one of those areas, along with I-77 South, Dave Lyle Boulevard to the Catawba River and a light rail corridor. The small area plan, or an overlay district, is something Lake Wylie residents have asked for at numerous public hearings in an effort to make land use, zoning, development and other decisions based on a vision for the future of the area.

Several years ago a Lake Wylie overlay made it through widely attended public meetings before the county planning commission voted it down.

Lake Wylie residents were concerned about increased residential growth straining roads, schools, the environment and other public infrastructure. A small area plan could put new development rules in place just for Lake Wylie, similar to a comprehensive plan for the entire county.

“It’s really just a smaller, more detailed comprehensive plans for certain areas throughout the county,” interim county manager David Hudspeth said.

Site-specific planning also can help resolve issues such as rezoning requests and road frontage requirements. On Monday night, Lake Wylie residents spoke out to Council about stormwater ordinances and issues they see as vital but may not resonate in other parts of the county.

Ellen Goff is a board member with the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and a county appointee to the Lake Wylie Marine Commission.

“The issue of stormwater management and sediment pollution is the No. 1 concern of both groups,” she said.

Other areas

Council in February directed planning staff to choose four areas that could benefit from a small area plan.

“We’ve begun some preliminary research on those areas and just small area plans in general,” Hudspeth said.

The I-77 plan is for property from the Catawba River and Cherry Road area south to the Chester County line.

“It’s a two-mile (corridor) on each side of I-77 with the purpose of being to promote economic development in the area and protect residential neighborhoods and commercial properties,” Hudspeth said.

The Dave Lyle plan would replace something similar done several years ago in the area. County leaders at the time saw a massive piece of riverfront property up for redevelopment. The county has since bought the 1,900-acre property with plans to create something like the Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill.

“With the county’s purchase of the property, that has changed all the dynamics in the area,” Hudspeth said.

The light rail corridor is in discussions are ongoing with Rock Hill, Fort Mill and Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study, he said. A definite route connecting to Charlotte has not been set.

Councilman Britt Blackwell sees potential in small area plans. There has been talk, he said, of minimizing warehouses along parts of the interstate.

“That might be a consideration to think about,” he said.

The Dave Lyle area could mean getting right-of-way sooner for an extension toward the river, which could ease the traffic burden to the east in Fort Mill.

“Sooner or later that southern bypass is going to have to occur,” Blackwell said.

Hudspeth said those results and others, potentially affecting residential construction in Lake Wylie, could come from the small area plans.

“We want to do that plan and figure out what’s best for the county,” he said.

If the plans work in places like Lake Wylie, they could become a model for when growth extends to other parts of York County.

“Eventually, we’re probably going to need some of these on my side of the county, but right now the growth is hitting these four areas,” said Councilman Robert Winkler, who represents western York County. “I’ve said all along I would support those areas because they need the help.”

“We can adapt these as the growth comes this way to try to help keep us from getting buried like some other parts of the county have,” Winkler said.

Council workshops to work on the small area plans will begin in July.

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