The Van Wyck News

Volume 5 Number 16
A Voice for Freedom          20 November 2013
Cluster Development
Operation Cramdown Continues

         The Cluster Development Proposal was approved by the Planning Commission (PC)  at its meeting on 14 November with 5 in favor and 1 opposed (Ken Faulkenberry the dissenter) and will be heard by County Council at its meeting on 25 November (6:30PM in the County Administration Building).
          For six months the Planning Department and Planning Commission have been utterly determined that this proposal will go forward as is and groups opposed to various features of the Proposal, primarily the very large infrastructure costs to be born by the present taxpayer, the high fire risk generated by the very close spacing of the houses, very small lot sizes and very narrow streets coupled with the necessity of on street parking. Most recently this proposal was rejected by County Council on 9 September and returned to the Planning Commission for revision. The revised version has been returned with no changes in the essential numbers, but with some minor conditions, some of which are unenforceable, to make the problem numbers seem more palatable.
          This proposal needs to be soundly defeated.
          There are some good ideas in the cluster development concept, some of which are already incorporated in Ordinance 400, as pointed out by Ken Faulkenberry at the Planning Commission meeting on 14 November. These ideas can be incorporated into the much needed UDO revision, currently scheduled to begin in 2015.
          There is no benefit to county taxpayers, Indian Land or otherwise, from the passage of this ordinance. There is no plan as to where to put Cluster Developments or to develop and pay for the vast infrastructure elements that will be required to support them. The only things for sure if this proposal becomes law are that a number of Cluster Developments will be built and that County taxpayers will be on the hook for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure costs to support them. County taxpayers are already on the hook for uncounted millions of dollars in infrastructure costs to support the ongoing random development effort over the last ten years with no plan as to what to do or how to pay for it.  Passage of this proposal at this point verges on suicidal.
          The plan comes first. The development comes after and according to the plan.

Cluster Development: Who Wins?
          Who wins if the Cluster Development Proposal passes and becomes law?
1. Matamy Homes wins big - they will promptly move to rezone the Treetops site to a residential zoning and to develop it using the new Cluster Development Ordinance designed specifically to put at least 933 homes on that site - a $350MM project.
2. The present owner of the Treetops site gets paid $9.3MM for the property.
3. Southern Realty, the broker who sold the property will get a commission of around $1.5MM, half of which will go to the salesman who sold the property. The salesman is now an employee of Matamy Homes.
4. Brian Janest of the landscape architecture firm of ColeJanest & Stone, the consultant employed by Matamy Homes to write the Cluster Development Ordinance to permit the profitable development of the Treetops site, can expect to do very well both directly, having brought home the bacon for Matamy Homes, and for his firm, which can expect millions of dollars in new business both from the Treetops development and from other developers who will need guidance in using the Cluster Development Ordinance in Lancaster County.
5. The Lancaster Builders Supply organization,
owned by SC Senator Greg Gregory, who wrote a letter of support for the Cluster Development Proposal, and other local contractors can expect a lot of business from the housing construction and site development activity.
6. The local politicians who worked so long and hard to make sure that the Cluster Development Proposal became law in a form that permitted the profitable development of the Treetops site will certainly benefit, not financially, which would be illegal, but it never hurts an ambitious politician to have a rich friend.
7. The citizens of Indian Land, where most of the Cluster Development activity is expected to take place, will gain new residents which will help them in their long sought goal to obtain more influence and eventually control over County government.

Cluster Development: Who Loses?
          Who loses if the Cluster Development Proposal passes and becomes law?
1. This list must be headed by County taxpayers, who will be burdened with the enormous cost of the schools, roads, and other infrastructure that will be required to support the residents of the thousands of new homes to be constructed.
2. The number two position must be held by the owners of these new homes, who will be persuaded by salespeople to invest their life savings into a new home in Lancaster County and will be assuming that the required infrastructure either exists or will be built. They will find out the hard way that the required infrastructure does not exist, has not been planned and cannot be paid for.
3. Lancaster County's children, who will be raised in a world of overcrowded, underfunded, inevitably underperforming schools and will face a lifetime of unnecessary difficulty because of the County's inability to plan and grow intelligently.
4. Indian Land residents who will face a world of increasing traffic jams and urban sprawl because of the County's unwillingness to plan effectively for growth and execute according to that plan.

Cluster Development: What Do We Do Now?

         Job 1 is to make sure that the Cluster Development Proposal is defeated by County Council at its meeting on 25 November. 
1. Call, email and talk to members of County Council. Tell them that you oppose Cluster Development. Contact information is to the right.
2.There is an election next year and Districts two (Charlene McGriff), four (Larry Honeycutt) and six (Jack Estridge) will face the voters. Tell them that you will remember their vote on Cluster Development when you cast your ballot.
3. Show up for the Council meeting on 25 November. Sign up to speak during Citizens Comments. All you need to do is say your name and address and "I am opposed to Cluster Development."   

4. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Get them to perform steps 1, 2 and 3 above.
          Job 2 is to get involved in the planning process. Citizens need to have an active role in planning the future of the Lancaster County they are going to live in. This matter is far too important to be left to  the Catawba Regional Council of Governments in Rock Hill, as is presently the case.  We will be forming a group to get and stay active in the planning process; stay involved. It's your county to live in, your county to decide what it should be. What infrastructure should we be building? Should developers be required to pay for part of it? How do we go about doing this?
          Job 3 is to consider carefully whether the present makeup of  County Council, the Planning Commission and the Planning Department are what they should be and whether these organizations are working as they should. The Planning operation has certainly made a number of bad moves this year, including allowing a developer to hire a consultant to write an ordinance for the developer to use, the Gasoline Station Ordinances and the Banquet Hall Ordinance in addition to the current Cluster Development Ordinance.
     Our elected representive on County Council is Larry McCullough, whose term ends in 2016. Mr. McCullough appoints our representative to the Planning Commission, Ron Pappas. Mr. Pappas serves at the pleasure of Mr. McCullough and can be replaced at any time. Planning staff report to Steve Willis, County Administrator, who serves at the pleasure of County Council. Comments about the performance of Mr. Pappas and Planning staff are thus properly addressed to Mr. McCullough.
     Although Mr. McCullough is the only individual in this heirarchy for whom you can vote, you can certainly participate in the political process involving other County Council members. You can give money, work on campaigns, talk to other people, write letters to the editor, etc.
Get involved and stay involved. Remember that those who choose to stay on the sidelines have voted for whatever those who do get involved choose to do.

Privacy Policy

Success Story
     This article is from today's (Ed.: Sunday 17 November 2013) Charlotte Observer. It's all about a large development in Troutman, NC, a town just outside Statesville and not far from here, and the residents who had a huge impact on a developer's plans there. The developer presented a plan for 485 homes on a 200 acre site. Residents objected to several things: the number of homes, the lack of greenspace and beauty and imagination, even the name of the development. A dozen residents spoke at a Board of Alderman meeting in April (the equivalent of County Council), with over 100 more residents filling the chambers of the Town Hall.
      The plan has now been approved by the board and is endorsed by the residents, after the developer and board listened to the people: reducing the number of homes to 330, among other changes at residents request. This all happened in a matter of months.
     This proves what people can do when they get together and make their objections known by showing up at council in large numbers.
     Troutman did it, so can Van Wyck and Indian Land, but people have to show up and be seen and heard.
      If you agree, it would be great to forward this message to your distribution list. Please send it on. People can make a difference. I am going to send this message to council and planning members as well. Troutman is a community where people are working together, not being dictated to by greedy developers and self serving boards. Have a look at their town website as well, they are actively seeking citizen discussion, not just 3 minute one-sided comments at meetings. Truly inspiring, a good example for us all.
Barbara Bartos
     Observer article    Town of Troutman website

CDC Schedule
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.

Council Members
Contact Information

Councilmember - District 1 - Chairman (Larry McCullough)
Phone: 803-802-5888

Councilmember - District 2 (Charlene McGriff)
Phone: 286-5232

Councilmember District 3 - Vice Chairman (Bob Bundy)
Phone: 803-287-8693
Fax: 803-285-6631

Councilmember - District 4 (Larry Honeycutt)
Phone: 803-246-0021

Councilmember - District 5 (Steve Harper)
Phone: 803-804-5325
Fax: 803-285-3361

Councilmember - District 6 - Secretary (Jack Estridge)
Phone: 803-475-2849

Councilmember District 7 (Brian Carnes)
Phone: 803-288-3290
Fax: 803-285-3361