Fort Mill Times

Third time’s a charm. Why a 449-home Lake Wylie project finally got its extension.

The York County Planning Commission voted 5-3 on Monday night to approve a vested rights extension allowing 449 homes. The move impacts almost 213 acres on the northern banks of Crowders Creek.
The York County Planning Commission voted 5-3 on Monday night to approve a vested rights extension allowing 449 homes. The move impacts almost 213 acres on the northern banks of Crowders Creek. Fort Mill Times file photo

Meriway Pointe is getting its one-year extension, making way for hundreds more homes in Lake Wylie.

The York County Planning Commission voted 5-3 on Monday night to approve a vested rights extension allowing 449 homes, after twice meeting in recent months and failing to come to a decision. The move impacts almost 213 acres on the northern banks of Crowders Creek.

York County Councilwoman Allison Love represents the area. She said the decision “with no consideration of traffic or environmental impact” is “a careless one.” She also didn’t approve of the way a decision was made.

“Discussion was held in executive session and there was no public discussion after the public motion to approve the request,” Love said. “As the representative for the area, I have not been given the answer as to why this had to be approved.”

The county gave initial plat approval for Meriway Pointe in October 2015. That approval is good for two years, but a developer can ask for an extension. Walton Development asked for a one-year extension prior to the two-year window expiring, which would run it through Oct. 9, 2018.

In an Aug. 29 letter from the company, Walton informed the county it had surveyed roads, coordinated improvements with the South Carolina Transportation Department, worked out water and sewer service issues, started on first phase construction documents and acquired all the land for entrances. The company was “in negotiations with a reputable national builder,” according to the letter, that should be in place within 90 days.

“An extension will allow us adequate time to consummate that transaction, complete the construction document and permit process, and begin construction,” the letter says.

On Sept. 19, separate motions both to approve and deny the request failed with the commission locked in 4-4 votes. The group deferred the issue, wanting to meet with the county attorney after public comments that night on sediment runoff from construction into Crowders Creek, traffic problems and potentially dangerous left-hand turns from the property.

No vote was taken when the commission met again Oct. 9, as county staff awaited a legal update on the issue.

On Nov. 3, the company sent a letter to the planning commission and its attorney sent a separate one to the county attorney. Both stated Walton Development met the county ordinance and South Carolina Vested Rights Act requirements and thus should be granted the extension. The company’s letter to the commission mentioned a second entry to the site “which will allow most of the traffic flow” out to take right turns.

The letter between attorneys cites rules stating the county has to approve up to five one-year extensions “unless an amendment to land development ordinances or regulations has been adopted that prohibits approval.” Walton’s attorneys wrote the first annual extension “is automatic and is required to be granted by the planning commission as a matter of law.”

Love said the extension, if nothing else, made for a missed opportunity.

“Disappointed is not a strong enough word for how I feel about this vote and the lack of communication I have received,” she said.

“If a development is required to seek an extension after two years, there is obviously a reason for that. We missed an opportunity to negotiate more current standards prior to granting another year. Much has changed in the two years this property has been sitting idle.”

The average lot size at Meriway Pointe will be .12 acres. The site includes 37 acres of tree-lined land and almost 64 acres of open space. The first phase will be 140 lots. Construction won’t begin on remaining lots until the second access point along S.C. 557 is ready, per the development agreement.

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