Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill sets course for bypass corridor planning

Town planners now have a little better sense of how they will prepare for what many expect to be a growth spurt on Fort Mill’s south side.

Last week, Town Council voted to create an advisory committee to help shape a growth corridor along the Fort Mill Southern Bypass. It will include seven members – Ward 4 Rep. Tom Adams, two town planning commission members, two local property owners and two residents in nearby communities.

“We want to get a lot of community input so that we’re not getting ahead of ourselves and doing things out there that people don’t want us doing,” Adams said. “We’ll be looking at traffic, land issues. We want to try to make sure that we’re growing smart.”

Others invited to participate will be the Fort Mill School District, county land planners and the state Department of Transportation.

“All the meetings that the committee has will be public meetings,” said Joe Cronin, assistant town manager and planning director. “There also will be a couple of meetings that will be designated public input meetings.”

The first phase of the Southern Bypass should be complete this fall. Town staff recommended to Council that a corridor plan be put in place prior to that time to steer, plan and manage the expected development along the corridor.

“With several large parcels available for development,” read the recommendation, “it is anticipated that the bypass will become a future growth corridor for the Town of Fort Mill.”

The first phase of the bypass runs from near the intersection of Doby’s Bridge and Holbrook roads on the east to Fort Mill Parkway on the west. The second phase picks up on that eastern end and runs north to Springfield Parkway.

Areas near phase one construction include the Whitegrove, Dominion Bridge and Edgewood subdivisions. Land tracts east and west of Dominion Bridge, and southwest of Whitegrove sit undeveloped.

Some undeveloped property is located on the far northern and southern stretches of phase two, with the middle section winding through existing areas like Sandy Pointe, Friendfield and Kimbrell Crossing.

The advisory committee will look at the entire area – roughly from Hwy. 21 to Hwy. 160 – which includes both phases and a smaller project along Spratt Street approved in the most recent Pennies for Progress vote in 2011. The bypass is a Pennies project, with most of it approved for funding in 2003.

The town already is contacting potential committee members. Adams cautioned that there is only so much the committee can do to determine growth when private landowners are involved, but he’s hopeful in the role he’s playing.

“Once that property opens up, it’s going to develop,” Adams said. “The more community input we can get, the better off we’re going to be.”

A corridor plan likely would be included in the town’s comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance and capital improvement planning. The town’s current general fund budget includes $75,000 for planning and zoning expenses, up to $50,000 of that money available for a zoning code update. Staff recommended that some of that money be used to hire a consultant for bypass corridor master planning.

The appointments should be made this month, with the committee meeting either in late March or early April. It should be finished in August. Recommendations will go to the full planning commission and then to Town Council by late summer or early fall.