Annexation of planned 650-home Fort Mill subdivision clears 1st hurdle

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comFebruary 17, 2014 

— A plan for 650 more homes in Fort Mill is past its first hurdle.

Fort Mill Town Council gave first reading Monday to an annexation and development plan for 650 new residences between Suttonview Road and the Catawba River. Up to 150 of those units could be townhomes. The property is a little more than 280 acres.

“This could be a big thing for Fort Mill,” said Councilman Tom Spratt.

James Martin, vice president with developer Crescent Communities, said the company would lean heavily on local experience with the project. Crescent developed more than 600 lots in upscale Springfield, where the final two phases are finishing now.

“Our desire is to create a community to inspire life on the river,” Martin said of the new project.

The 1999 Suttonview Road site sits next to land planned for a future school and the Kanawha property, which Crescent has under contract for purchase. An amenity center and pool “similar to what we’ve done at Springfield” are planned, likely along the river. The project includes 20 percent open space. There isn’t land set aside for public recreation fields, Martin said, as topography on site doesn’t lend well to it.

Matt Levesque of ESP Associates said the project will include almost a mile of meandering, at times riverfront walkway that will be part of the Carolina Thread Trail. The trail will be public and will have two, 10-space parking lots on either end. Canoe or kayak launches aren’t planned, though developers said several nearby. The trail could connect via existing bridges to Riverwalk in Rock Hill.

“You’re connecting Fort Mill to the river,” Levenesque said.

Council members did express some concerns. The Sutton and Suttonview roads intersection will need improvements, as will some other stretches of road nearby. The site has one entrance an developers say they’d like the main entrance to come from a planned road connecting the Kanawha site.

“There’s very limited access in and out of the site,” said Councilman Tom Adams.

Martin said the developer would “participate in” needed utility improvements, as full water and sewer lines don’t connect to the property. One arrangement could be to take a portion of impact fees from the project, about 30 percent, and return it to the developer to recoup some costs, he said.

“I would like for you to foot the whole bill,” Adams said.

Council also brought up the effect on schools. The property is in the for Riverview Elementary School lines. Joe Cronin, planning director for the town, said the under construction Riverview school won’t initially be at capacity.

“Presumably it’ll fill up quickly, as they all do,” Cronin said.

By passing first reading, Council still has time to ask for additions or changes to the plan before final approval. One may be to request a fee instead of land set aside for public fields, as has been done with other projects.

“We need ballfields, we need a gymnasium, we need a swimming pool,” Adams said. “We need a lot of things.”

The competition-size pool at the Complex on the Greenway, used by local high school swim teams and recreation programs, could disappear after the town’s lease with Leroy Springs & Co., which owns the complex, expires in a few years. LSC indicated that it would like to redevelop the complex and its surrounding ballfields for residential and retail use.

Council members appeared pleased with what the developer presented. Councilman Larry Huntley said as long as the property isn’t clear cut, and developers say it won’t be, he sees the potential for an attractive project.

“It would be an area I’d like to live in,” he said.

John Marks•  803-547-2353

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