Riverchase to include more homes, public use for Fort Mill residents

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comFebruary 19, 2013 

— More homes than once planned could be coming to the Riverchase subdivision, though town officials say the move still fits within their overall land use plan.

Last week, Fort Mill Town Council unanimously passed first reading on a change that will up the number of residences in the development between Doby’s Bridge Road and the Catawba River by 35 percent. The town planning commission also unanimously approved the change before Council’s Feb. 11 decision.

The Riverchase property sits just beside the Beckenham neighborhood.

“The zoning change represents only a slight adjustment in density and will provide for a more intelligent use of that property,” Mayor Danny Funderburk said. “It conforms comfortably with the land use recommendations put forth in our updated comprehensive plan.”

Preserve at Riverchase was approved for 186 single family homes in 2008. Now, applicant SRP Realty Holdings wants to switch from a planned neighborhood to mixed use zoning, allowing for up to 250 single family units, space for a “currently undefined” municipal use and greenway trail along the Catawba River.

The agreement given initial approval by Council stipulates that the developer will donate eight lots to the town within 12 months of final approval, though it doesn’t state what municipal use will be located there. The developer will install a five-foot sidewalk along the residential frontage of Doby’s Bridge Road, though not the municipal portion. The project has an overall open space requirement of 20 percent.

The recommendation provided to Council from Joe Cronin, assistant town manager and planning director, states that the new plan is “still considered low density” development in line with current planning. It also notes that the town is currently negotiating a separate utility agreement with the owner and developer. Staff recommended the rezoning.

Councilman Nathan Blythe, also chairman of the planning and transportation committee, said any increased density proposal “raises a little bit of concern” due to traffic and similar issues, but that the Riverchase change still fits into Fort Mill’s vision for the area.

“This is a previously approved project with some modifications. With that in mind, I’m more comfortable with it than with something that’s a new piece of business.”

Town planners expect considerable growth in that area in coming years with the addition of the Southern Bypass. Developers already are showing considerable interest in new projects, they say.

“That’s a big part of our planning right now, how to handle the growth down that way,” Blythe said. “That’s a big part of the future of Fort Mill.”

Riverchase, Council hopes, will be part of shaping that future.

“We’re excited at the opportunity to resume our smart growth policies as we see development begin to percolate in the Fort Mill area,” Funderburk said.

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