Fort Mill Times

Council: Race is heating up

FORT MILL TOWNSHIP -- The race for York County Council District 1 won't be decided until November for the first time in several years.

Incumbent Paul Lindemann and former Councilman Jeff Updike will face off in a June Republican primary.

The winner will face political newcomer Marion Davenport, a Democrat, in November.

Lindemann is already looking ahead to a second term, and said he's enjoying much more support this year than two years ago when he unseated Updike in a GOP primary then ran unopposed in the general election.

"I'm not going to take anything lightly," he said. "Last time, everyone told me I couldn't win, but now I'm getting more than 20 calls a week from folks encouraging me with their support. I'm feeling pretty good about this time."

If he wins, Lindemann said, his next term will focus on creating overlay districts along Hwy. 160 - East and West - and along Gold Hill Road to encourage a better mix of commercial and residential uses. He calls it "Project Hilton Head."

"If you went there 15 years ago, it looks the same today as it did then," Lindemann said. "It's a beautifully planned road with a consistent mix of residential and commercial."

He said the district would be more focused on both those areas than the current 2025 Land Use Plan to better guide the development along the township's two busiest roads.

He also expects the future use of Knights Stadium and the Bobcats Training Center to be major issues the next council will deal with.

He also likes some of the ideas included in the adequate schools ordinance the council is considering, but he doesn't think it will pass this year because of questions of legality.

On the other hand, Updike, who served one term, said under the current council, especially due to its handling of landfill issues and the lawsuits that have followed, York County has given off the perception that it is unfriendly to business.

He's is also unhappy with the council's decision to disregard the suggestion of county planners and leave the intersection of Firetower and Porter roads in Rock Hill as a "Y" rather than a "T" intersection.

"Part of the point of Pennies for Progress was to fix dangerous intersections," Updike said.

His third reason for trying to retake the council seat he lost is the way the current council was ready to disregard the 2025 Land Use Plan when it came to 10 acres owned by Herman Stone on Hwy. 160 West in front of the Waterstone subdivision in Fort Mill Township. The plan called for residential development, but the council had already voted once to approve a commercial rezoning when the request was withdrawn.

"We have this plan for a reason and we need to follow it," Updike said. "When I look at these things and start putting them together, I don't like where it's going."

Updike said he fully supports the adequate schools ordinance that calls for developers to provide infrastructure to offset population growth.

Davenport has never held elected office, but does serve on the board of directors for the Regent Park Community Owners Association. She has owned and run Chirp n' Chatter, a store catering to bird lovers, in the Tega Cay Village Shopping Center since 2001.

"District 1 needs to look hard at the kind of growth we're having. We have to look at the effect it's having on our schools," she said. "One of the main reasons people move here is the schools because the school experience has traditionally been more stable with neighborhood schools, but with the [enrollment] freezes, which are necessary, it has made it less appealing."

The loss of green space to development also concerns her. She said the county needs to go back to the 2025 Land Use Plan to keep growth under control.

"I think the council has not functioned in a cohesive way, looking at what's best for all of York County," Davenport said. "Each district has special issues, but we need to try to work together. One of my strengths is helping groups come to a consensus."

Davenport also supports the adequate schools ordinance.

Next week

York County Council's District 5 race will have two in the running.

• See our April 9 edition for more.