Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill council approves Spratt property development

A portion of the property where a mixed-use development will add over 2,500 new homes in Fort Mill. Land is also set aside for business use, parks and open space.
A portion of the property where a mixed-use development will add over 2,500 new homes in Fort Mill. Land is also set aside for business use, parks and open space.

The Fort Mill Town Council voted unanimously to annex, rezone and allow thousands of new residences on the Spratt property Monday night.

The decision, involving more than 700 acres at the Spratt Street and Brickyard Road end of Fort Mill Parkway, allows for up to 2,650 residences and at least 350,000 square feet of commercial space. The plan includes about 60 acres donated for park and recreation use, along with some public access along the Catawba River.

The initial proposal from former U.S. Rep. John Spratt had up to 3,400 residences. The number was 2,900 two weeks ago when the council held the first of two public hearings. The final plan allows for up to 1,575 single-family homes and 1,075 apartments, for the 2,650 total.

“That number did decrease,” said Dennis Pieper, town manager.

A smaller crowd gathered Monday night than at the first public hearing, when a line of residents largely opposed the plan because of residential density and road infrastructure needs. More people spoke in favor than against Monday night, though the half-dozen speakers were well fewer than spoke at the first hearing.

Former Fort Mill Mayor Charlie Powers lent his support to the plan, saying nobody cares more what happens to the site than Spratt and the council. There was concern if Fort Mill didn’t annex, York County or even Rock Hill would work with Spratt to develop the site. Powers said the plan is “nothing but sensible.”

“I know you care more about Fort Mill than you do about getting re-elected,” he told the council, “and that’s important.”

Fort Mill resident and property owner Scott Couchenour said he approved of the plan, though he had several suggestions including a residential construction density to about 2,000 units.

Deciding based on Rock Hill possibly annexing, he said, shouldn’t be a factor and the plan should be considered on its own merit.

“If that’s our system, shame on our system,” Couchenour said. “We should be able to make decisions without that pressure.”

Resident Pete Skidmore focused on the land donated as part of the plan. He believes Spratt and the council have the residents’ best interests at heart.

“We have so many children that needs parks and recreation,” he said, “and this man is willing to donate.”

Resident Al Rogat, one of many opposing the plan at the first hearing, returned Monday with concerns. He said the plan “seems absurd on its face.” Who Spratt is or how he feels about Fort Mill shouldn’t make the decision, Rogat said.

“I respect him and I like him, but this issue has nothing to do with him. It has to do with Fort Mill and the people who live here.”

Mayor Guynn Savage said she, too, can easily focus on the residential numbers but she hopes others will see a larger picture with the property also adding commercial space and donated land.

“It’s unfortunate if we do not focus on the benefits to our community,” she said.

Town staff and elected officials worked with the developer on the plan for months, all the way up to this past weekend as changes were made.

“We had eight months plus a really long week last week to come to a point where we’ve asked about all the questions we can ask,” Savage said.

Spratt’s development team throughout the process argued the light industrial zoning already on much of the property allows for warehouses or other uses generating more traffic than the largely residential area would with annexation and rezoning. Both the single-family and multifamily housing will have 20 percent either age-restricted or age-targeted to seniors, who generally create less traffic or traffic at times other than the morning or evening rush.

Council members said the decision was difficult, but overall they see the move as a positive for Fort Mill. Even if it may take some time for other residents to see it.

“It won’t make everybody happy,” Savage said, “but I firmly believe my grandchildren will walk those trails, fish that river and enjoy that access.”