The Van Wyck News

Volume 5 Number 15
A Voice for Freedom          7 November 2013
Cluster Development
Operation Cramdown Continues

          County Council held a worksession on 4 November to which the Planning Commission was invited for the puropose of putting pressure on reluctant members of County Council to bring the Cluster Development Proposal into law despite its many flaws. Penelope made a Powerpoint presentation (copy available here)  and a decision was made to discuss the matter at the Planning Commission Worksession on 7 November at 5:00 PM, present it to the Planning Commission for action at their business meeting on 14 November at 6:30 PM and present it to County Council at their meeting on 25 November at 6:30 PM. All meetings are in the County Administration Building. The general sentiment seemes to be that it is time to either pass or forget this matter.
          Residential developments generally have two types of associated costs. The first of these might be called the build cost, which includes the cost to purchase the property, construct the home and the streets around it, provide the utilities, landscaping and amenities in the immediate area around the home. These costs are normally paid by the developer and recouped (at a profit) when the developer sells the home. The second kind of costs are called infrastructure costs, and include the schools, fire, police and EMS facilities, libraries, recreational facilities and the transportation network that are required to siupport the residents who will live in the homes. Currently these infrastructure costs will be borne by County government and paid for by taxpayers.
          During the first few years after approval, the developer is investing money in the site, building the streets, sculpting the land and constructing the first few houses. A lot of money is being spent in the County, but very little tax money must be spent by the County. The government and local politicians look like heros, providers of jobs and the resulting well being.
          As the houses begin to be finished, and people move in,
typically in the third and fourth year after approval, the need for infrastructure starts to grow, very slowly at first. Normally existing infrastructure has the flexibility to absorb small additional demands without large inconveniences. Property taxes begin to flow into the County.
          As the development finishes building out, construction activity and jobs begin to slow drastically and the demands for infrastructure accelerate as the houses fill up. Property taxes are flowing into the County, but it is generally accepted that residential property taxes are not sufficient to pay even the ongoing costs of County services. Residential property taxes cannot be counted on to provide money for capital projects like infrastructure. Unless there is a plan for what infrastructure is required and how to pay for it, the County will end up in a situation where it faces many demands and has no resources to fulfill them.
          This is the situation we are in right now with Indian Land and will enter into again if Cluster Development becomes law. Development began in Indian Land about ten years ago with a general approach of "let them build what they want, where they want and when they want" without any regard to infrastructure requirements, protection for Rte. 521 or planning of any sort for facilities or the means to pay for them. For several years things seemed to be going well. The recession hit and things seemed to slow somewhat but we are now ten years into the process and the infrastructure needs are serious. The roads are terrible, the schools stretched very thin, the general appearance of the area is very poor, there is not even a list of what needs to be done much less any sort of plan. There is no provision for any way to pay for anything at all.
          The McCullough/Carnes proposal is that we need some new taxes, beginning with the renewal of the 1% sales tax, to help pay for some of this planning oversight and let's come up with a new building technique called Cluster Development to get the cycle started over again, this time in Van Wyck. Although there is still no plan, there is a much discussed plan to have a plan on which not much actual work has been done. Nonetheless, we should start immediately by passing Cluster Development to initiate a flood of residential development applications, mainly in Van Wyck. We should rezone Treetops to allow building 933 homes, bringing a $350MM homebuilding development to Lancaster County along with $60MM in infrastructure cost to be paid by County Taxpayers, destroying the Van Wyck community and allowing a couple of politicians to build reputations as bringers of jobs to Lancaster County.
          I disagree with the PD/PC/County approach. The Plan must come first. In the Van Wyck area (Southern Panhandle) we know that the Dave Lyle extension will be needed and we need to decide where it and the associated commercial corridor should be. We need to understand how the various roads will be used, what changes to them may be necessary and how they will be protected. We need to understand the railroads and how to help them and use them effectively. We need to understand where residential and commercial areas should be located and what they should look like and what infrastructure is needed and how to pay for it. We need all this before anyone starts building anything.
          Cluster Development needs to be defeated, which will give us a little time to work. The PD/PC need to be reformed to do actual planning and to care a little about current residents. Van Wyck needs representation on the Planning Commission which it does not presently have. The Comprehensive Plan and the UDO need to be reworked at least as applied to the Van Wyck area. Cluster Development and Conservation ordinances contain some good ideas that need to be incorporated into a redesigned UDO.
          This is a tall order, but the defeat of Cluster Development is the key to beginning. The County has no business inviting a new round of building activity with no plan at all beyond making developers happy and profitable. Repeating all the mistakes made in Indian land seems the height of stupidity, yet this is exactly where we are headed if Cluster Development passes. In addition, the ordinance itself is heavily flawed. I will comment on the flaws in the ordinance when  the version to appear before County Council is made available.
          Time to contact your Council members and let them know how you feel. Contact information is to the right. Get your frienda to contact them as well. Forward this page to everyone you know. Your and their future tax dollars are at stake - tens to hundreds of millions of them - for unplanned infrastructure upgrades if we fail.

         
         



 
        
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Lantern Tours
     On Saturday 9 November the Friends of Andrew Jackson State Park are hosting Lantern Tours at the park ar 6:00, 6:30, 7:00 and 7:30 PM. The tours will feature walk - bys of scenes from 1781 - era life. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children 6 - 12 and free for children under 6.

Bluegrass
     The Van Wyck Community Development Club is hosting bluegrass at the Community Center with Trinity Bluegrass - Gospel. Shrimp janbalaya is free as long as it lasts, drinks and snacks are for sale. Performers are welcome to bring instruments and will be given an opportunity to perform. Admission is free; donations are accepted.

CDC Schedule
Thursday, Novermber 7. 7:00 PM - Bluegrass  at the Community Center.admissions is free but donations are accepted. Free soup as long as it lasts, snacks and drinks for sale.
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 globes 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.

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Council Members Contact Information

Councilmember - District 1 - Chairman (Larry McCullough)
Phone: 803-802-5888
Email: mccullough2008@comporium.net

Councilmember - District 2(Charlene McGriff)
Phone: 286-5232
Email: cmcgriff@comporium.net

Councilmember District 3 - Vice Chairman (Bob Bundy)
Phone: 803-287-8693
Fax: 803-285-6631
Email: bbundy@lancastercountysc.net

Councilmember - District 4 (Larry Honeycutt)
Phone: 803-246-0021
Email: lhoney@comporium.net

Councilmember - District 5 (Steve Harper)
Phone: 803-804-5325
Fax: 803-285-3361
Email: steveharper@lancastercountysc.net

Councilmember - District 6 - Secretary (Jack Estridge)
Phone: 803-475-2849
Email: jackestridge@yahoo.com


Councilmember District 7 (Brian Carnes)
Phone: 803-288-3290
Fax: 803-285-3361
Email: briancarnes@lancastercountysc.net