Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill planning commission plots course for homes, apartments

One tree can stay, but another must go to make room for 100 new homes on Kimbrell Road.

A Ryland Homes plan to put 100 homes on almost 30 acres already was approved by Fort Mill Town Council, through an annexation and development agreement. A layout of the property came to the town planning commission several times before the latest version gained approval May 26.

Initial plans showed the large oak at the intersection of Kimbrell and North Dobys Bridge staying per the development agreement, but two large live oaks beside the Kimbrell home coming down. Commissioners asked developers if those trees could be saved. The redrawn, approved plan preserves the tree on the left but the one on the right would be removed.

“One of the trees is in better condition than the other one,” said Joe Cronin, town planning director.

An arborist found that a septic tank on the property, along with demolition of the existing home, likely would damage one of the two trees beyond the point of saving. The other will have an area preserved roughly twice the size of its canopy. A site plan shows the main entrance to the neighborhood on one side the oak and a cul-de-sac on the other.

The neighborhood will have internal and external sidewalks and area set aside for future connections to neighboring properties. All trees large enough to warrant replacement by town code will be replaced with live oaks.

Other decisions by the commission still require final say from Town Council. The planning commission narrowly recommended — by a 4-3 vote — a plan for up to 255 luxury senior apartments on River Crossing Drive, just off Sutton Road. Commissioners agreed that senior living options is a need in Fort Mill, but also that the 14-acre site near I-77 was not ideal.

The area there is slated for commercial or office development near the interstate. Some commissioners wanted to hold off the rezoning to allow apartment, hoping an office project might come.

“There is definitely a need in this area for this type of project,” said Commissioner James McMullen. “I just feel this is the wrong location.”

Commissioner Chris Wolfe said the property sits at a key entrance to the community, planned for businesses.

“I’m afraid this would change the perception of that area,” he said.

Chairman James Traynor saw both sides of the debate, ultimately leaning toward the favorable recommendation.

“There is a need for it,” he said. “I continue to think it’s a bad site. I can live with it being there.”

Other commissioners showed more optimism. The age-restricted community would bring in tax revenue, they said, while having no impact on school enrollment. Retirees, they figured, wouldn’t add cars to the road during peak, rush hour traffic.

“What I like best of all is we get the taxes, with zero impact on the schools and zero impact on traffic at peak times,” said Commissioner Ben Hudgins.

Commissioner Tom Petty weighed the desire for age-restricted housing options against how often his group receives similar plans.

“They don’t come about every day,” he said.

In total, the planning commission took up half a dozen items May 26 that will decide how more than 70 acres in town might be developed. The group recommended denial for a rezoning of the Coleman’s Garage site at 314 N. White St., and for a rezoning to allow mini-storage units on North Dobys near Fairway Drive.

The commission deferred a request to subdivide the more than 20-acre Avery Plaza property into five parcels.

The group recommended in favor of plans to subdivide three Main Street properties into six and to rezone two acres at the end of Bozeman Drive from commercial to residential at the request of the Fort Mill Housing Authority.

John Marks •  803-547-2353