Fort Mill in talks to buy Nation Ford Land Trust property

joverman@fortmilltimes.comJuly 9, 2013 

— A board member with the Nation Ford Land Trust said the Town of Fort Mill approached the conservation group about purchasing 29 acres of property currently held in the trust.

Town officials have met at least once with the Nation Ford Land Trust to discuss annexing part of the protecting property the group owns, to bring the property into town limits.

The town has also discussed a potential land purchase, according to Nation Ford Land Trust board member Steve Hamilton.

“We’re voting on whether to seek value assessment of the property, because the town is interested in purchasing it,” Hamilton said.

The 29-acre property under discussion is contiguous with a 151-acre development near Tega Cay which, when complete, will include 550 homes. The development is currently in the unincorporated area of York County. If the Town of Fort Mill purchases the Land Trust property, it would make the 550-home development contiguous with the town and could also be annexed into town limits with landowner approval.

Mayor Danny Funderburk said last week that considering annexing the 550-home development hadn’t been discussed but “could possibly be part of the deal.”

The City of Tega Cay also has been eyeing that development for annexation. On July 15 the city will hold second reading of an ordinance that will bring the Comporium Communications building at 2382 Hwy. 160 West into the city limits, making the 550-home development contiguous with the city. At that point, the city would be interested in talking to the developer about becoming part of Tega Cay, Mayor George Sheppard said.

Funderburk did not immediately return calls for comment on Monday.

Tega Cay City Manager Charlie Funderburk said the city is set up to serve the planned 550-home development with water and sewer utilities already in the area as well as fire, police and EMS services.

In the next two years, a public safety station is planned for Stonecrest Boulevard, he added, “so we’re looking at a possible two-minute response time.”

Whether the development is in the Town of Fort Mill or in the City of Tega Cay, the city’s officers could be among the first to respond to public service calls in the development, because of the close proximity to Tega Cay, he said.

“Fort Mill is interested in the development and I’m sure they have their reasons. We’re interested in serving it and we probably will be serving it,” Funderburk said.

“We would love to have it as part of Tega Cay. We will be contiguous the week after next. After that, we’ll be ready to have conversations with them, if and when they are ready,” he said.

Fort Mill Town Councilwoman Guynn Savage said she was “unaware” of any specific purchase discussions or possibility of annexation, though “we’re always aware discussions are taking place about many projects.”

“I have not been made aware of the particulars. At this point, I’m waiting for a presentation,” she said.

Savage wouldn’t talk specifically about the land trust or the 550-home development planned just beyond it, but said that bringing commercial property into the town is a long range goal of the council.

The 550-home development is planned to have a commercial component.

“The benefit is to balance the residential growth with the business growth,” she said.

She cautioned that these types of plans aren’t made quickly and require a great deal of advanced planning.

“For us to acquire the opportunity to entertain or bring business into Fort Mill, we have to look forward years in advance for those opportunities to come to fruition,” she said.

In recent years, much of the growth in the area has been outside the town’s borders, she said. Growing the town through property annexation can help expand its commercial tax base. With the Greenway on the northern end of town and the Catawba bordering the town on the south, growth will likely be limited to the east and west, she said, though there will be some opportunities along the bypass.

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