INDIAN LAND — The Indian Land area of Lancaster County is becoming increasingly urbanized, and county leaders need to plan ahead to support the growing population, County Council member Brian Carnes said.
Carnes updated the Indian Land Action Council on local demographics during a Monday meeting. The county’s population increased to 22,633 residents, or by 1.6 percent, from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013, he said.
If the population continues to grow as it us now, Carnes estimated that Lancaster County could see between 12,000 and 13,000 people per district, with three districts representing the Panhandle, by 2021.
“There will be a fine balancing act in council in trying to meet the needs of the Panhandle, versus the remainder of the county,” he said.
However, the growth also means more retail and commercial development.
“The entire county will benefit from the impact of the taxes paid, as well as the increased choices for county residents for shopping and job opportunities,” Carnes said.
Larry McCullough, chairman of the Lancaster County Council, walked community members through the layout of the county government. He pointed out the county’s volunteer-based commissions, urging more residents to get involved.
Volunteers, he said, are “what makes Lancaster County a great place to be,” he said.
Jerry Holt, a member of the Lancaster County Planning Commission, addressed residents’ concerns about gas station placements on Hwy. 521.
At a previous meeting, the Planning Commission rejected an ordinance that would address placements for convenience stores, with or without fuel, because it did not address the issues they felt it should, Holt said.
The commission is working on approving a companion ordinance that will specify restrictions for gas station placement, including that the stations be placed on intersections of a county road and another county accepted road, Holt said. Stations also will not be placed within half a mile of another station.
While this will not affect the gas stations that already exist, it will prevent them from being built in certain areas that don’t meet the restrictions, including at the Publix on HWY 521, Holt said.
“I think we’re on the right track,” he said.
One resident asked the council if Lancaster County is looking to do something similar to York County’s Pennies for Progress program, a one-cent sales tax for local road improvements.
McCullough said a similar program is expected to be proposed by Lancaster County. The program would be put into effect after the 1 cent sales tax that pays for the county’s new courthouse is satisfied, he said.
The proposal will have to be presented to the voters as a referendum, who will then decide to pass it or not.
“Much work is to be done,” McCullough said.
Another concern was the South Carolina gas tax, which is the third lowest in the nation and has not been raised since 1987.
While this is a state issue, McCullough said the tax is crucial to improving transportation in the county.
“This is a key ingredient to getting better roads in Lancaster County and in South Carolina,” he said.
McCullough said the legislature is needs to take action.
“When the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and Truckers Association are both yelling to raise gas taxes and fix the roads and the Legislature just fiddles while the highways crumble, something is bad wrong,” he said.
Ron Pappas, a member of the Lancaster County Planning Commission, addressed resident concerns regarding the Cluster/Conservation development ordinance.
“This pursuit has always been a county initiative,” he said.
Pappas said he is not a fan of clear cutting. He said the county encourages developers to work around the greenery.
“You don’t have to clear cut to have a beautiful community,” he said.
The community also welcomed a new member during the meeting.
Ryan Valencic, chiropractor at Carolina Spine LLC, opened his Indian Land office in May. Valencic, who is from Pittsburgh, Pa., said Indian Land is a nice change.
“I like the fact that there’s a small-town feel here,” he said. “The community has been really supportive of my family.”
Valencic’s business is also part of the Doctors for Health and Wellness foundation, requiring his office to complete more than 120 hours a year of community service.
Valencic is supporting the Indian Land Elementary dress code drive, a clothing drive for local students. His office will be the drop site for donations.
The council added the new business feature to their meetings to highlight local businesses, council president Pat Eudy said.
“We hope they will stay local,” she said.