Lancaster County planners are on the verge of recommending a rezonings moratorium for the Panhandle.
The planning commission is getting ready to propose a nine-month moratorium on rezoning applications north of Hwy. 5, to the state line. The moratorium wouldn’t impact ongoing projects in the Panhandle, or new projects where current zoning already allows the intended use.
A public hearing on the moratorium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 19 at the county administration building. The hearing is being held by the planning commission. Lancaster County Council would have to hold a public hearing of its own and pass three readings of the proposal before the moratorium could begin.
“It’s not really stopping growth,” said Penelope G. Karagounis, county planning director. “If it does pass, you’ll still see a lot of activity.”
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The move would “put a pause on new rezoning applications,” Karagounis said. The county is updating its unified development ordinance, looking at land use but also utility and road infrastructure. The existing ordinance was approved in 1998.
If the measure is ultimately approved, it would be the second moratorium in five years. The last one began Dec. 13, 2010 and ended June 25, 2012.
Indian Land has 18,000 parcels of land rezoned or ready for development. Of those, about 15,000 are for single-family residential and the rest are multi-family. The Panhandle has Lancaster County growing at a higher rate than any county in South Carolina.
“The influx of growth has presented a lot of challenges,” Karagounis said. “This area that’s growing in Lancaster County, it’s an unincorporated area. It’s part of the county.”
The county also is looking into impact fees, as are officials in Fort Mill. Those fees would place charges on new development to help offset public costs. Something Karagounis sees as important if growth is to help pay for itself.
“There has to be impact fees to help provide for the services that aren’t available up there,” she said.
Karagounis said her department fully supports the moratorium, but the decision lies with Council.
“At the end of the day, planners don’t vote,” she said. “They make recommendations.”
Brian Carnes lives in Indian Land and is one of two Panhandle representatives on Council. Carnes, the vice chairman, said there isn’t an overwhelming sentiment either way on whether the moratorium will proceed.
“I think it’s still up in the air,” he said.
Carnes sees the side of people wanting a slowdown in growth. He also sees the side of landowners who held onto their properties for years, and could have a harder time selling if they have to wait nine months to rezone. Commercial development is another concern, Carnes said.
“I haven’t make up my mind on it,” he said.
County Council meets May 18, one day before the planning commission public hearing. The first Council meeting after the public hearing comes June 8.
John Marks • 803-547-2353