Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill bypass area gets skeptical public response

Residents on Thursday certainly had ideas as to what types of development they do or don’t want along the Fort Mill Southern Bypass. They just were more interested in whether the road will do what planners say it will.

“It’s a much-needed addition to our community,” resident Vivian Ferrell said.

About 30 people turned out to provide public input that will be used by a town committee to help shape development on the road, which will run roughly from the new Riverview Elementary School site to Doby’s Bridge and Holbrook roads, then up to Springfield Parkway. Displayed were varying possibilities on commercial, residential and industrial structures, along with sidewalks, street lights – anything that might make for a consistent look along the bypass.

“It’s really to help us define the character of the bypass,” said Kate Pearce, consultant with LandDesign. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all type of thing.”

Planners expect significant development interest in the land around the bypass once it opens. The first phase should come next May and the full project completed a year later. Together, the phases cost $29 million. It will initially be a two-lane road, but plans include expanding it to four lanes with bike lanes and sidewalks.

Ferrell said she wasn’t sure about having a school so close to one end. Her main thought is that she wants traffic eased in downtown Fort Mill. WhiteGrove resident Nancy Fahrner had the same idea.

“If the bypass gets busy, people are going to go back to the old way,” she said.

Vacant land is her idea of the best use of property along the bypass, but said it isn’t likely. She and several other residents say they don’t want mismatched properties, but would like uses that make sense together.

“I think a mixture,” said Martha McCusker. “Certainly everyone is always happy to see some level of retail, and probably some residential.”

By placement of red and green stickers on maps, residents showed they don’t want strip malls, but do want bike paths. They didn’t want “Cherry Road” – a reference to the congested part of Hwy. 21 that runs from the end of the Cawtaba River bridge on the Rock Hill side, south through the city.

They did want open space. The did want sidewalks and buffers.

Challenges await a group formed by the town to look into bypass growth. One half of the road is significantly more developed already than the other. Portions are in the town, while others are just county land which could make zoning overlays difficult. Information from last week’s meeting will be gathered and presented again during a Sept. 5 public meeting.

Officials said the bypass is bound to bring changes, including the cul-de-sac-ing of Doby’s Bridge and Brickyard roads. Planned are three signals, including existing ones at Hwy. 160 and Banks Street. Planners say more lights won’t be added, a move residents say is key to creating and maintaining a bypass.

“My thought is that it be maintained as a bypass, and not just become another road,” McCusker said.