No shortage of Fort Mill volunteers to serve Southern Bypass committee

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMarch 30, 2013 

— Town leaders aren’t having to twist arms to fill out the newly created Fort Mill Southern Bypass Advisory Committee.

Town Council saw a report at its March 25 meeting on citizen interest in the committee. What members found were more names than committee seats.

Council previously approved a committee to be chaired by Councilman Tom Adams and include two planning commission members, residents and commercial property owners, each. Applications by the March 20 deadline included three planning commission members, six residents and three property owners.

Non-voting but invited participants include York County planners Steve Allen and Phil Leazer, Fort Mill School District Assistant Superintendent Tommy Schmolze, Vic Edwards of the state Department of Transportation and town representatives from engineering, planning, parks and recreation, police and the fire department.

Applicants for the group included three from the Ardrey Acres community and two each from Beckenham, Dominion Bridge and Sandy Pointe, plus one from both Old Orchard and Springbranch. Adams is a Whitegrove resident. Commercial landowners submitting applications were Clear Springs, Aston Properties and Quarter Pointe Ventures.

James Traynor is president of Clear Springs and chairman of the planning commission. He also lives in Ardrey Acres. Traynor said he believes the town took the right approach when developers’ interest revved up, a “typical reaction” to a project like the bypass where property nearby suddenly becomes more attractive for residential, commercial or other development uses.

Although the town can’t dictate to landowners how to develop property, steps can be taken to avoid a “shotgun approach” to development, Traynor said.

“When you own the property you have a broad variety of options,” he said. “But you still have to conform to the comprehensive land use plan, the town rules and regulations. It’s not a matter of whatever you want to do, you do.”

Mike Cookman is a resident who filed to serve on the committee. His Dominion Bridge neighborhood “is certainly being impacted” by the new road, as are others represented by applicants. As for whether that impact is a good or bad one, time and the efforts of the committee will tell, Cookman said.

“By nature I’m an optimist, so I’d lead toward the optimistic view,” he said. “This road should not only bring relief to congestion, but also future development, future business.”

Fort Mill Town Manager Dennis Pieper said last week that he anticipates Council selecting group members at its April 8 meeting. And that having more applicants than positions isn’t always the case on municipal boards or service groups, highlighting the interest residents have in preparing for growth along the new corridor rather than reacting to it.

Those applicants not chosen for the final group still will be able to attend meetings, as all advisory group sessions will be open to the public. Group members will, however, be the only ones allowed to vote. Any decisions made by the group will then be sent to the full planning commission and Council to help those groups make formal recommendations or actions.

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