Indian Land seeks road, development improvements

September 5, 2013 

— Special to the Fort Mill Times

When the Indian Land Action Council next meets on Sept. 18, one of the civic group’s guest speakers will be a new business owner. The other is a local school principal.

Both might have been attentive audience members at ILAC’s Aug. 19, when that night’s guest speaker, state Sen. Greg Gregory, told residents that Indian Land will see better roads and improvements to education thanks to an increase in S.C.’s revenue stream.

While the state’s revenue has not yet reached pre-recession levels, it is up 6 to 8 percent from last year, Gregory said. Some of that revenue stream is from state’s gasoline tax, which has been 16.75 cents per gallon since 1987 – among the lowest in the nation. Gregory said raising the gas tax 2 cents per year for five years would yield $370 million by the fifth year that could be used in road projects.

Gregory said S.C. spends $15,000 per mile to maintain its roads, compared to the $150,000 North Carolina spends.

“As [South Carolina] has progressed, our roads have, until recent times, kept up,” Gregory stated in his report. “We can fix them now, or later. Later will cost more in auto repair and tax dollars.”

Also discussed at the Aug. 19 meeting:

Education

The state’s budget also allocated funds to expand higher education. The Lancaster delegation got a 42 percent increase in state funding for USC-Lancaster, Gregory said.

“This was one of my main objectives for the year as USC-L has been penalized for its growth due to the static manner in which the state funds higher education,” he said.

The university’s base funding from the state, $1,542,448, was increased by $715,037, Gregory said. He said $466,878 will be put toward deferred maintenance.

However, the increase is not recurring, and the university will have to fight for it again next year, Gregory said.

USC-L is the largest of the four regional two-year USC campuses, with 1,700 students, more than 400 of whom live in York County, Gregory said.

Rezoning

Lancaster County Councilman Brian Carnes updated residents on several issues in Indian Land, including the rezoning of six properties on Jim Wilson Road.

Where the terms have expired, the county is working to rezone properties that were planned, but never developed, back to their original zoning, Carnes said. Jim Wilson Road was rezoned in 2008 for a residential development that never happened.

While one development on Jim Wilson Road would be rezoned back to allow a manufactured home park, Carnes said the county does not believe this will be the best use of the property, particularly because it is across the street from Walnut Creek.

“We aren’t sure what direction we are going to go at this point,” he said.

The plans have been sent to the planning commission to begin the process of deciding what they should pursue in these areas, Carnes said.

The county is also in the process of selling the land previously set aside for the Pleasant Valley Fire department back to the owner, Carnes said.

The land did not meet the needs of the fire department and would have cost $600,000 to $700,000 to make it a useable site, Carnes said.

The county approved selling the land back to the developer for the $200,000 it is worth. The developer has a seller interested in buying the land for multi-family units, Carnes said.

Penny tax

The Council also approved the first reading of an ordinance to set up a capital project sales tax committee, to put together a referendum for the 2014 election that would allow funds from the ‘Penny Tax’ – a 1-cent sales tax increase – to be used for road repair in the county, Carnes said.

“Everybody wants their roads fixed,” he said.

The ordinance must be approved by three readings to pass and the voters will make the final decision.

Carnes also updated the council on plans for the county’s detention center, which will need to be replaced or extended in the next five to 10 years.

While the funding source for the detention center has yet to be determined, conversations turned to possibly using the new 1-cent tax revenue for at least part of the work, Carnes said.

At the council’s last planning session, held in Hilton Head, Carnes said members discussed what the council should focus on in the near future. The list of 35 items included infrastructure needs and the hiring of an in-house attorney.

521 corridor study

The Hwy. 521 corridor study, completed in 2010, identified 11,000 potential new home sites in Indian Land, District 7 Planning Commissioner Jerry Holt said. Council hopes to use this study to make improvements in Indian Land as it continues to grow.

“We have to get in front of this activity so we can have some reasonable plans for traffic control...and manageable growth,” he said.

The study predicts what life in the Panhandle will look like in 30 years, given the growth activity it is currently experiencing, said Ron Pappas, District 1 commissioner.

“It is a visionary document,” he said.

Pappas said they hope to use the study to minimize the impact of traffic on Hwy. 521 and shape the area the way the community hopes to see it.

“The more informed we are the better we are going to be able to react,” he said.

Pappas said he hopes to involve community members in the process.

“It is a uniformed effort between all of us,” he said.

The County Council and Planning Commission will have a joint meeting September 5 to discuss their priorities regarding the 521 Corridor Study.

Lennar Development

Holt addressed issues regarding the Lennar development near Sun City, including residents’ concerns about the impact of traffic in the development.

Many residents were concerned that the development had not planned any deceleration lanes at the entrance, Holt said.

At the Commission meeting on Aug. 20, the Lennar representative did commit to creating these lanes, Holt said.

“It is a matter of safety,” he said.

Pappas said the Lennar leadership has been open to recommendations.

“We welcome them in our community,” he said.

Gas Stations

The Planning Commission proposed an ordinance that will restrict any new gas stations in the Panhandle, Holt said.

The ordinance will require that any new stations be placed at an intersection of a county or state road and another major thoroughfare, he said. The stations must also be placed at least half a mile from an existing gas station or intersection with a gas station.

Holt said the ordinance aims to prevent Indian land from “becoming a major truck stop for people on the south side of Charlotte.”

The ordinance will go to the Council for consideration.

Cluster Development

The Planning Commission approved the Cluster/Conservation development ordinance in its final form and it will now be sent to the Council for review, Holt said.

The ordinance allows developers to use smaller lots, he said.

“The [ordinance] encourages developers to more tightly pack home sites in order to prevent clear cutting,” he said. “The intent is to preserve the natural state as much as possible.”

If approved, the ordinance could be applied to areas such as the new residential development on Van Wyck Road, the former site of the TreeTops children’s camp where Mattamy Homes wants to build up to 1,200 homes.

When Pappas first joined the Planning Commission, he said there were no rules in the county to prevent clear-cutting.

“[The ordinance] was always a county initiative,” he said.

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