The Van Wyck News

Volume 5 Number 10
A Voice for Freedom           9 September 2013
Cluster Development, Treetops and More
          At its meeting on 20 August the Planning Commission sent the Proposed Cluster Development Ordinance to County Council with a recommendation for approval. The matter will be heard at the County Council meeting on 9 September at 6:30 PM in the County Administration Building. If the Cluster Develpment Ordinance passes, Matamy Homes will move immediately to rezone the Treetops site with the intention if developing it with 933 homes, fewer than the 1555 that would be permitted under the Ordinance but still an extremely large development. Built out over six or eight years, the Treetops development is expected to add 3000 people, 1000 of whom will be school age children and 2500 cars to the northern end of Van Wyck Road and about $75MM in infrastructure costs to County tax bills. Added to the three other developments already approved in the area, the total population increase for the area is expected to be about 11,000 people, 2600 of which will be school age children and 9000 cars over six or eight years. Total infrastructure cost to the county will probably exceed $150MM. This is only for about a 2 mile stretch of Rte 521 from Van Wyck Road to Doby's Bridge Road. There is additional development already permitted further north in Indian Land which is not included here.
         The County is asserting that the Treetops Development is not on the agenda for the 9 September meeting, but in fact if the Cluster Development Ordinance is passed by County Council, it will be extremely difficult for Council to deny the Treetops application to use it. Cluster Development is the marketing tool that Matamy Homes needs to make the Treetops Development work financially.
          The material above argues that the Cluster Development Proposal needs to be defeated bacause it is too large to fit into the  available infrastructure, especially when other developments already in progress are included in the picture. The Cluster Development Proposal has a number of specific deficiencies as well. Some of these deficiencies are described below.
      1. Because these large homes are so close together (10 feet apart) and yards are so small, on street parking will necessarily be permitted. Provision must be made for easy access to each structure for large fire, EMS and emergency vehicles.  Rear access was provided in an earlier version of this document, but is not included here.
2. Streets must be designed to permit transit by large emergency vehicles even with cars parked in them. This is not a requirement at present.
     3. A provision for the use of only fire resistant materials in the exterior walls of the buildings was present in an earlier version and has been deleted here.

     4. Floodplains no longer seem to be included in the Primary Conservation area (unbuildable area).
     5. There is no provision for the collection and disposal of storm water generally and particularly storm water draining off roofs into the 10 foot space between houses, where it can cause substantial damage if drainage is not provided.
     6. The Traffic Study needs to specify that the impact of presently approved but not constructed developments be included in projections of future traffic flow. Without such inclusions future traffic flow predictions are useless and misleading.
7. There is no provision for payment of the infrastructure costs associated with the developments to be built under this provision. It may be necessary to ask the Lancaster County delegation to the State Legislature to propose a local bill adding schools to the list of infrastructure costs that can be charged to the developer in Lancaster County. It is certainly unreasonable to ask the present taxpayers to subsidize these costs, which can run to tens of thousands of dollars per house; hundreds of millions of dollars for a large development.
     8. Consultation with Kenneth Cauthen, Building and Zoning Manager, would be appropriate for additional insight in dealing with construction, difficulties presented by situations involving large homes very close together.
    9. In the proposed Ordinance the Homeowners Association is given ownership of the open space in the development. There is at present no law governing Homeowners Associations; it is not even clear that such organizations can own property. Experience with Homeowners Associations has not been particularly positive in places such as Sun City, and there is no reason to expect such an undefined arrangement to work here.
          The County has been digging a hole on Indian Land for the last ten years, allowing developers to build whatever they want wherever they want  without any plan and without even keeping careful track of what has been done. The sides of the hole are starting to collapse in the sense that streets are deteriorating, traffic is building up to objectionable levels, the schools are overcrowded, etc. The first thing to do in this situation is STOP DIGGING. Lancaster County does not need a Cluster Development Ordinance right now. Indian Land for sure does not need another 1000 home development when it has no way to pay for the infrastructure requirements for developments already approved. Lancaster County needs to kill this Cluster Development Proposal, climb out of the hole and have a good look around. There are some good ideas here; it should be possible to build some of these into the UDO when the time to rewrite the UDO comes around.
          Right now we have a Planning Department and a Planning Commission, neither of which does any planning, nor does either actually keep track of what has been approved and, of that, what has actually been built. These organizations have spent more than eight months developing this heavily flawed proposed ordinance using a consultant paid by the proposed developer, Matamy Homes. This same consultant is also being paid by the County to develop the Rte 521/Rte 160 Corridor Overlay. This obvious conflict of interest situation needs to  change.
          The Cluster Development Ordinance needs to be defeated, not tabled, and not sent back to the Planning Commission for further revision. As many people as possible need to show up at he County Council meeting Monday night, 9 September, at 6:30 PM in the County Administration Building to oppose this ordinance. Citizens have the opportunity to speak for up to 3 minutes on the issue if they wish, but must sign up to speak before the meeting starts. If you would like to speak come a little early so you can sign up. Citizens names are called in the order in which they signed up during the Citizens Comments portion of the meeting. Citizens are asked to give their name and address, then given 3 minutes to say whatever they want to say, which can be as little as "I oppose the Cluster Development Ordinance." or as much as will fit into 3 minutes.
          We have an excellent chance of defeating this monstrosity. See you there!
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Fall Festival

     The Van Wyck Fall Festival was a big success on Saturday 7 September. Pony rides (above) provided by Bel Air Farm Riding Academy were a big hit, but there were numerous games, the Gem Mine and the train to keep children busy and vendors, crafters and politicians for the adults. The weather was beautiful.   

Connect Our Future
     Connect Our Future is an organization developing a regional plan for the large growth forseen for this area in the next few years. Connect Our Future will host a local workshop on 3 October 2013 at the Carol Ray Dowling Building at USCL. The focus of the workshop will be to obtain citizen input as to where in Lancaster County different forms of growth should occur. There is no charge, but citizens must sign up to participate. Multiple times are available. Brochure.

CDC Schedule
Friday, September 6, 9:30 a.m. (time may vary) Set up for the festival at 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
Thursday October 3, 7:00 PM Bluegrass at the Community Center
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
Tuesday December 3, 7:00 PM CrimeWatch and Community meeting, put up Christmas decorations
Saturday, December 7, noon, Van Wyck Christmas Parade and Candy Toss. 2:00 PM put out candles and grobes for Lighting the Way.
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.