The Van Wyck News

Volume 5 Number 9
A Voice for Freedom             15 August 2013
Cluster Development

     The original Treetops Cluster Development  matter has been broken into two questions - the first is whether Cluster Development should be permitted in Lancaster County at all and the second is how the Treetops site should be developed.
     The Cluster Development part of the matter is on the Planning Commission agenda for the 20 August meeting at 6:30 PM in the County Administration Building for a public hearing and decision on a recommendation to County Council for action. A copy of the proposed ordinance is available here.
     The development of the Treetops site will be taken up after the Cluster Development question has been answered.
         Cluster Development is a technique that places the houses close together on very small lots and leaves a large portion (perhaps 25% or more) of the total land as undeveloped or minimally developed “open space”, to be owned and managed typically by a homeowners association.
    Advantages to the developer include much reduced site development costs (roads, utilities, etc.), since all the houses are close together in a small area. There are no disadvantages to the developer for using the Cluster Development technique.
    Advantages to the community to Cluster Development are limited to the inclusion of large buffer requirements which permit use of the “Open Space” to shield the development from view. The community can thus maintain a rural appearance while actually containing a large population in the houses hidden from view. There is, of course, no reason that such buffer provisions cannot be included in the requirements for all housing developments, not just cluster developments.
    Disadvantages to the County from Cluster Development are many, beginning with the enormous potential size of the projects and the complete lack of provision for the initial cost of required infrastructure in the form of roads, schools, police, fire, EMS services and the like.
    As applied to the 622.48 acre Treetops site on Van Wyck Road, the rules in the proposed ordinance could result in as many as 1555 homes (half the size of Sun City) being built on 267.86 acres with an average lot size of 6200 square feet (0.13 acres)– large houses 10 feet apart. At an average selling price of $400k, such a project would be worth $622 million dollars to the developer and have a density of 5.8 dwelling units per acre on the built up portion of the property.
    In a non-age restricted development this could easily mean 4665 people (at two adults and one child per house). The 1555 children would add 13% to the School District's student population, currently 11652 students, and require building perhaps two new schools. The 4000 or more cars located in the development would require heavy improvements to Van Wyck Road, disrupting the lives and lifestyles of all the other residents living on the six mile length of this road.. The new residents would pay taxes, but taxes on residential development normally do not cover even the operating costs for the governmental services provided and make no contribution to the capital costs of the required improvements. There is room for several more similar developments along Van Wyck Road.
    Those living in other areas of the County are invited to imagine the impact of such a development in their own communities.
    There are serious risks involved that are not addressed by the ordinance. The potential size of the development and its impact on County infrastructure and local communities are discussed above. The potential for failure of the Cluster Development concept in the marketplace must also be considered. The concept has worked in other areas of the country, but has not been shown to work here. If the project fails, a la Edenmoor and some others, the developer walks away and the County inherits the mess to clean up. Another risk is the use of a homeowners association to manage a substantial portion of the property. Homeowner associations have a spotty record in such situations; the law needs improvement not provided here.. There is no provision at all for consideration of the impact of this development on the current residents of the community in which the development would be built.
    Lancaster County cannot afford to continue its current policy of development by expediting whatever developers want to do wherever they want to do it. This policy has led to the current situation in Indian Land; one of our major objectives is to prevent this situation from becoming entrenched anywhere else in the county. Lancaster County needs to develop, but this is not the way to do it. This incestuous (developed at the request of the Planning Department by a consultant hired by the developer who plans to use it) cluster development proposal needs to be voted down and a rational development policy implemented that addresses risks, infrastructure needs and the impact on existing communities.
    Those wishing to address the Planning Commission on this issue have three forums available to do so. The first is to appear at the Planning Commission meeting on 20 August (date, time and place at the beginning of this article). Those wishing to speak must sign up before the meeting.  During the Public Hearing portion of the meeting each person signed up to speak will be called to the microphone by name and given up to 5 minutes to share his/her thoughts with the Planning Commission.
     A second option is to use the attached petition form to register disapproval of the Cluster Development proposal with the Planning Commission. Simply print out the attached form, pick a block and sign your name above the place in the block that says "Signature Above" and print your name and address below the line that says "Name and address below." Feel free to get your friends and neighbors to sign the petition also. Petitions must be brought to the meeting; send me mail if you have a petition bearing signatures and do not know how to get it to the meeting. Petition forms do not need to be full to be submitted and it is permissible to both sign the petition and speak at the meeting.
    The third option is to address comments in the form of a letter or email to Penelope Karagounis, Director of Plannong, Lancaster County Administration Building, 101 N. Main Street, PO Box 1809,  Lancaster, SC  29720, . Be sure to indicate that your comments apply to the Cluster Development Ordinance UDO-TA-013-006 on the agenda for the 20 August 2013 Planning Commission Meeting. This is the least reliable method of communicating your views to the Planning Commission.
     Van Wyck and Lancaster County generally need to develop, but having the County assist developers to place whatever they want wherever they want and whenever they want is not the way to go about it, especially when what they want is to put large communities of very large houses down on postage stamp sized lots without addressing the risks, with no provision for infrastructure needs or considering the needs of or effect on the existing community.
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Fall Festival
     The Van Wyck Fall Festival will be held on Saturday 7 September from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Community Center, 5036 Old Hickory Road. There will be all day fun, food, games and music with crafts, pony rides, the train, the gem mine and more. Flyer.

BBB Family Festival
      A Bluegrass, Barbecue and Building festival to benefit Habitat for Humanity will be on Saturday 17 August with food at 4:30 PM and performances at 6:00 PM at Covenant Baptist Church, 165 Craig Manor Road, Lancaster. Performances will be by the Hinson Girls, the Wateree Ramblers and the Sun City Cloggers. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and include admission and a barbecue plate. Flyer.

CDC Schedule
Tuesday, September 3, 7:30 p.m. Community Club Meeting
Friday, September 6, 9:30 a.m. (time may vary) Set up for the festival (the Community Center)
Saturday, September 7, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (volunteers time ) Celebrate Van Wyck 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Take down – clean up
Tuesday, October 1
, 7:00 p.m. Crime Watch and Community Club Meeting
Saturday, October 26, 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (volunteers time) Halloween (times may vary) 4:30 p.m. games, 5:30 p.m. hotdogs, 6:30 p.m. candy walk
Saturday, November 30, 9:00 a.m. Put up Christmas Lighting Poles and chili
Saturday, December 7, noon Van Wyck Christmas Parade and Candy Toss
Sunday, December 8, 4:30p.m. Lighting Of The Way

Feeding the Hungry
     Donations to Lancaster County food programs have fallen off recently. The recession increases the number of people facing hunger and the need for food.  The Van Wyck Press is happy to transport food to the agencies serving the needy in Lancaster. If you have food that you would like to donate and would like us to transport it for you, let me know.