York County Council opposes Fort Mill housing freeze on 2nd vote

In thie 2015 file photo, construction is underway for the Cameron Creek housing development on S.C. 160 at Tega Cay.
In thie 2015 file photo, construction is underway for the Cameron Creek housing development on S.C. 160 at Tega Cay. Herald file photo

A divided York County Council on Monday voted down a proposal to freeze residential growth in the unincorporated Fort Mill area for the rest of the year by a narrow margin on a second vote.

The initial measure, approved by the the council in April, would have banned the county from considering new residential rezonings in six separate zoning classifications in Fort Mill Township, or from accepting new preliminary plats or site plans for single- or multi-family housing until the beginning of 2017.

The council on Monday voted 4-3 against the housing freeze, with council Chairman Britt Blackwell and members Robert Winkler, Chad Williams and William “Bump” Roddey voting against it. The measure was approved 5-2 last month on an initial vote, with only Blackwell and Roddey voting against it.

The proposal would have banned new housing construction in the Fort Mill area – between the Catawba River, North Carolina and Indian Land, excluding land inside the municipal limits of Fort Mill and Tega Cay.

Council member Michael Johnson of Fort Mill, who made the proposal, wanted to use the time to have a study group of building industry representatives and residents come up with specific concerns the council can address with an ordinance.

However, several other council members said other development measures that the council has been working on would meet the need to control growth and would make the housing freeze unnecessary.

“This accomplishes nothing,” Blackwell said. “It creates a very negative business climate image for the county.”

Winkler said he had decided not to support the measure because “of what I have learned” about other ways the county can accomplish its goals.

Council member Bruce Henderson, who represents the northern York County area including the Lake Wylie area, supported the measure, saying he and Johnson are under “unbelievable pressure” due to rapid growth in those areas.

Before the vote, Rock Hill attorney Ben Johnson, who represents businesses, told council members he is concerned about the impact of “significant land use measures” that have been considered by the county in recent years.

He said they include a Lake Wylie overlay district that would regulate development around the lake. He also said businesses and investors have a need for predictability and may avoid York County if they don’t have that.

“I believe this is going to have a great impact on development in the county,” said Ben Johnson.

Henderson criticized council members who backed away from their support of the measure, saying: “Folks are shying away because of the least little boo from a lawyer.”

Council member Christi Cox supported the measure, saying the council “needs to hear from the public on this matter,” but she said the measure seemed to lack the support to advance to a public hearing.

Especially in the Fort Mill and Lake Wylie areas, growth has become increasingly problematic, officials said. York County reviewed 1,855 residential building plans in 2014 and another 2,534 in 2015, according to figures cited in the draft ordinance.

The county received six separate apartment plans last year, and seven the year before that – compared to three in 2013 and one in 2012.

Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077