County color requirements not coming to commercial properties

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comOctober 11, 2012 

— Opposition to an ordinance that could’ve allowed county control of color choices for some commercial properties – much of it from the Fort Mill area – led York County Council not to continue with the idea.

Council voted 6-1 against a proposal last week for residents in Lake Wylie to be able to set color standards for a large portion of the community there. All three Council members representing the Fort Mill area voted against the plan. Many had looked at the proposal as something that could be expanded to other parts of the county had it gained traction in Lake Wylie.

“I’m opposed to the government telling anybody what to do on their own private property as long as its not injurious and hazardous to a neighbor,” said Curwood Chappell (R-Dist. 5), one of three local reps.

Councilman David Bowman (R-Dist. 1) said such standards could be difficult to enforce and prompt litigation, and that the idea “crosses a line” that he’s uncomfortable crossing. Councilman Chad Williams (D-Dist. 7) heard from Lake Wylie residents concerned that the issue didn’t make a third reading and public hearing, saying he’d heard “substantial public comment already.”

“It just wastes resources from the county,” Bowman said.

The minority vote came from Councilman Bruce Henderson, who represents Lake Wylie.

“There’s definitely an argument on both sides of this issue,” he said. “I’ve been out there enough to know that there’s legitimate reasons for these concerns.”

County Planning Commissioner David McCorkle, a Lake Wylie resident, favored the plan to create more neutral colors largely in response to a recent opening of a title loans business with a bright green and yellow exterior.

“This is not government control,” he said. “This is a community asking for help.”

Jeremy Walters, a Fort Mill resident and candidate for the S.C. House Dist. 26 seat, spoke against the ordinance at the Oct. 1 meeting.

“I feel that this is a violation of the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “I believe in my heart that the state and the county has no right whatsoever to tell us what color we can paint our buildings.”

Fort Mill resident Larry Barnett is president of GPS Conservatives for Action PAC, a local Tea Party group that worked against the Lake Wylie proposal.

“Not only would it limit current owners’ ability to use their property as they see fit, it would require that they come into compliance with the new rules within five years,” he said. “This means that the business owners have to spend time and money that they did not plan on and may not have.”

Barnett said he wouldn’t be as opposed to the idea of common colors like those in Baxter or Hilton Head, when color schemes are planned from the beginning. It’s the retroactive aspect of the Lake Wylie issue that bothered his group.

“I don’t like the garish building signs and building colors either, but prefer that to government power and control,” he said.

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