Fort Mill Times

Push to incorporate Indian Land gaining steam

Growing Indian Land now includes a textile plant, Chinese-owned Keer America.
Growing Indian Land now includes a textile plant, Chinese-owned Keer America.

Some Indian Land residents want to create a new town.

They just have to find enough like-minded neighbors.

A group known as Voters for a Town of Indian Land formed a nonprofit and are taking their message public. They want to incorporate the Panhandle area of Lancaster County north of S.C. 5 into a town manager/town council government similar to those in Fort Mill and Tega Cay.

If it incorporates, Indian Land would be the largest city in Fort Mill Township with approximately 25,000 residents. That compares to more than 13,000 in Fort Mill and 9,000 in Tega Cay. The largest city in the area is Rock Hill in York County with nearly 70,000 residents.

The group pitches its plan online at townofindianland.org.

Organizers announced the new effort in October with a Facebook post on the the Concerned Citizens of Indian Land page. The post drew almost 50 comments in less than a week, ranging from support to opposition, but largely in search of more details.

“I find it funny that most of the people that want to incorporate our community have lived here less than 15 years and most of the lifelong residents are against it,” commented John Gray.

The post showed a variety of issues concerning residents, but many came back to community growth.

“I know so many people that are native to the area are against it but they have failed to realize this area is out of control due to lack of proper planning that comes from government,” commented Kathy Younce.

A Google search of “Indian Land incorporation” reveals the issue is not new. News articles, online comments and area descriptions mention the issue dating back half a decade. Wanda Rosa, president of the 10-year-old Indian Land Action Council, a civic association, said her group hasn’t been presented with the latest case for incorporation and likely won’t until at least the new year.

Rosa’s group hasn’t taken a position, though some of its members also are involved in the incorporation group.

“There is quite a bit going on that will be coming to the forefront,” Rosa said. “It will start to grow, I’m sure. People need to have the facts, because it’s a big step.”

Several incorporation efforts through the years have “sort of died on the vine for various reasons,” Rosa said. Early on, she could see why.

“My personal opinion was that we’re not ready to be a city,” Rosa said. “As you look into it, there’s always a lot more to becoming a city than people think.”

Now, though, she said it seems the “day is fast approaching that we would have to become a city.”

Rosa said she is open to either argument now, as long as the case is an honest one.

“Give us the pros, give us the cons,” she said, “but give us the truth.”

According to information on townofindianland.org, the new town would provide law enforcement and fire protection, both contracted with Lancaster County, along with planning and zoning, building code enforcement and parks and recreation. The town would be broken into five districts, with one non-partisan council seat for each.

A small group formed in February. The group grew and looked at other, similar municipalities. They worked with the Municipal Association of South Carolina on preliminary budget numbers.

The most recent state rules on incorporation come from a 2006 handbook. An area must have at least 300 people per square mile, and 15 percent of eligible voters must sign a petition to bring incorporation up for vote. The new municipality must provide at least three public services. The area must sit beyond five miles from another municipality, unless the existing municipality refuses to annex the area.

A seven-member joint legislative committee would review the petition and present documents to the Secretary of State. Pending approval, an election would be held within 20 to 90 days. Voters decide incorporation, its name, government form, elected official terms and other items.

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