After years of residents worrying that Indian Land’s main corridor will become clogged with filling stations and out of state drivers looking for cheap fuel, the Lancaster County Council has passed the first reading of two new ordinances aimed at regulating new gas stations.
The measures would limit new gas stations in the Panhandle to intersections of major thoroughfares and at least half a mile from existing gas stations. It will take two more positive readings for the ordinance to take effect.
With the Panhandle so close to the N.C. border, Hwy. 521 is often filled with out of state motorists coming here in search of better value at the pump. S.C.’s gas taxes, among the lowest in the nation, translate into a much lower retail price per gallon.
Resident Pat Eudy, president of the local civic group Indian Land Action Council, said it looks like the county council is taking steps toward protecting Indian Land residents and the community.
“I’m very happy with the way things are going,” Eudy said.
The ordinance has been a long time coming, she said.
A year ago, residents became concerned about a gas station considering property across from the Black Horse Run neighborhood, just a few hundred yards from three other gas stations and down the road from two more. Residents fought against rezoning for that gas station to be built, and lost. Construction is underway.
Now, a year later, the first action is being taken to prevent gas stations from crowding the highway.
“We’ve been trying for five years and sort of inertia occurred, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest,” said Larry McCullough, one of Indian Land’s two representatives on the council and the Lancaster County Council chairman. “So, our planning efforts have sort of been sitting there. For some reason it didn’t happen and didn’t happen.”
McCullough said there is a better chance for action to take place since three new council members were seated in January, including one new representative for the Panhandle, Brian Carnes. Three new planning commission members were also selected this year, he said, and Penelope Karagounis was promoted to planning director last year.
“So I’m confident we are starting to move, but we want to keep it moving,” McCullough said.
Eudy agrees that things are moving in the right direction.
“I’m really pleased with the way things are going. And they are listening to people and that’s another good thing,” she said.
“The Indian Land Action Council has a representative go to the county council and we usually speak and they listen, but before they would just look at you and it was ‘ho-hum, here she comes again.’”
The planning department is working to craft an overlay district for the Panhandle that will allow zoning to be different than in the more rural parts of the county, McCullough said.