Fort Mill Times

River Hills residents argue against business rezoning in Lake Wylie

Russell Davey wants to relocate and expand his 30-year-old company in Lake Wylie from its current location in Heritage Park to 4581 Charlotte Highway, currently zoned for residential use in York County.
Russell Davey wants to relocate and expand his 30-year-old company in Lake Wylie from its current location in Heritage Park to 4581 Charlotte Highway, currently zoned for residential use in York County. Google maps

A business owner’s plan to relocate and bring more businesses to Lake Wylie is still alive despite neighboring River Hills residents’ opposition.

York County Council voted Monday to pass the second of three readings needed to rezone almost 5 acres at 4581 Charlotte Highway. Property owner Russell Davey wants to rezone his property from residential to allow new construction for an expansion and business center.

"What I plan to do is put in enough office space for maybe a dozen or 15 small businesses like myself,” said property owner Russell Davey. “We need that desperately."

Davey, owner of Lake Wylie Partners LLC, is an industrial distributor called Pak-Tec Inc. The family-owned business has been at Heritage Park at 4381 Charlotte Highway, Building 104, for 30 years.

His business needs an address more than it does curb appeal, but he wants to build something attractive. He conceded several extra requests from county staff or nearby residents, beyond what restrictions the new zoning would put on his property.

"I'm trying to relocate inside of Lake Wylie,” he said. “I already own this property. I think it's a good location."

If his business were going to be a problem for Honeysuckle Woods homeowners, Davey says it already would be. He has operated in a 6,500-square-foot building close to the site with four office condos and warehouse space at Heritage Park.

"My property is 30 feet away from the River Hills fence, where people live on Honeysuckle,” he said. “I've been in there since 1986. I've never had one complaint."

Yet the new plan has residents bothered. A petition with eight pages of signatures was sent to county leaders opposing the rezoning. Eight people asked Council on Monday either to deny it outright, or impose additional restrictions on that land.

Leah Youngblood lives across the street from the rezoning. She and others say restrictions on noise, odor, sight lines and buffering should be included. The proposed development is “pretty intense,” she said, with office or warehouse buildings coming in that could have “any number of commercial or light industrial” uses.

"It allows many uses that are simply not appropriate to abut an existing single-family neighborhood," Youngblood said.

Neighbor Pete Goodson said part of the property even comes into River Hills.

"This lot is actually surrounded on three sides (by residential land),” he said. “It comes into a residential neighborhood that's been around 50 some odd years."

Scott Clinton said seeing one commercial property from his home is bad enough.

"The idea of a second industrial property being constructed, honestly, it will take our property values and throw it in the toilet,” he said. “It will create an environment that's not suitable for a young family. I cannot oppose this strongly enough."

Resident Teresa Berenyi said not just the current plan is concerning, but possibilities it would create if the land is sold.

"Our request is to protect the properties, the property values and the neighbors of the River Hills community," she said.

Ray and Mary Williams with Lake Wylie Civic Association opposed the change, too. There are “quality of life issues associated” with the rezoning, Ray Williams said.

"Here it's open to all sorts of things in terms of townhomes and apartments,” he said. “All of a sudden you open up a can of worms by rezoning this."

Resident backlash surprised some on Council. Councilman Robert Winkler was “torn” on the decision, but also inclined to give it until third reading. As was Councilman William “Bump” Roddey. The landowner and residents have made progress.

"I would like to see another attempt be made," Roddey said.

Councilman Chad Williams was surprised given past public input from Lake Wylie.

"I guess I felt the community might be more receptive to this, because I know if we're talking about building a neighborhood that they would be against it,” he said. “Because that's what we hear in Lake Wylie, is no new neighborhoods."

Allowing third reading gives more time for compromise, he said.

"An acceptable commercial development, I think, is best in the long-term interests of folks in Lake Wylie,” Williams said.

Councilman Bruce Henderson didn’t need a third reading.

"I've got eight pages of people here who don't want this,” he said. “And they've made it pretty plain."

Beyond the resident input Monday, Henderson had worries over traffic.

"I'm just very concerned about the exessive traffic, because you're basically, in my opinion, you could be rubbing salt into a wound," he said.

Audra Miller, planning director, said a site plan hasn’t been submitted to fully review traffic impact. But roads in the area, she said, are at a failing level of service.

"I know what it's like when it to get in and out over there,” Henderson said. “I've known about several wrecks. People have been seriously injured, probably unnecessarily, because of bad management."

Karen Summers, general manager of the River Hills Community Association, had a list of additional restrictions her group requests including a 75-foot buffer, 100-foot building setbacks, a 40-foot max building height restriction, new vegetation planted along the property line and business hours restricted to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. They also want auto or boat repair, animal or medical facilities and other uses banned.

"We are concerned about the future use of the land," Summers said.

Residents agree Davey has been receptive to their concerns. Council members Michael Johnson an Christi Cox wondered how much restriction the site needs, given the group just finished a comprehensive plan calling for more commercial land use like what is being proposed.

"I'm struggling with the fact this could go residential," Johnson said.

Cox questioned why all the effort went into a plan if the county isn’t going to use it. Plus, she said, business helps the county.

"We need to get our industry back,” she said. “That helps all of our tax base."

John Marks: 803-831-8166