The Van Wyck News
|Volume 6 Number 1
||A Voice for Freedom||6 January 2014|
Horry County Cluster Development Fire March 2013
as Currently Proposed
Matamy Homes has, at the invitation of the Planning Department, prepared a Cluster Development Ordinance Proposal suitable for the development of The Treetops property on Van Wyck Road with 933 homes. This Proposal has been proposed by the Planning Department and Planning Commission as suitable for the entire County despite the despite the existence of considerable fire risk and emergency vehicle access problems due to extremely close spacing between buildings, small lots, small front yards and narrow streets. The Windsor Green development in Horry County, built to similar specifications, burned in spectacular fashion in March 2013 despite the 2 minute 18 second response time of a full time professional fire department with the ability to field eleven additional units in eleven minutes. Even so, twenty six condominium buildings containing 107 housing units were lost (photographs, previous story). A second fire consumed 70 homes in April 2009, also in Horry County and also involved homes built with ten foot separations. Horry County no longer allows 10 foot building separations in developments.
We believe it completely inappropriate to ask a volunteer fire department to take responsibility for defending such a development against fire. This is not to disparage volunteer fire departments, but there are some things that they simply cannot do. Providing two minute response times is one of them and providing large numbers of support equipment in a short time is another. We believe that it is incumbent on the local government to provide construction standards that are consistent with the capabilities of the firefighting force rather than pander to developers desires for low costs and put the volunteer firefighting force into a situation where it cannot succeed no matter how hard it tries. Known risk is being deliberately inserted into situations where firefighters and residents lives are at risk so that developers can meet their profit objectives. This is inexcusable.
Cluster DevelopmentThe big news in Cluster Development is that Cluster Development can be done under current law; the Matamy Homes Cluster Development Proposal to come before County Council on 13 January is not required. Pulte Homes has put together the Estates at Audubon Lakes on Barberville Road in Indian Land with 125 houses at least 20 feet apart on 86.53 acres (1.44 houses per acre) using 10,000 sq. ft. lots at least 70 feet wide and still maintained 38.8 acres (45%) of open space. Pulte does not plan to clear cut this development, but will preserve large trees as much as possible. Pulte used the provisions of Ordinance 400 already in the UDO for this development. There is no fire safety concern with the Pulte proposal; these parameters have been in use in Lancaster County for more than ten years.
and County Council
Cluster Development in its Matamy Homes version is before County Council for third reading at its 13 January 2014 meeting. Passage of this measure will allow construction of Treetops and other developments in Lancaster County to the same standards as those which burned so spectacularly in Horry County last March. Our volunteer firefighters will be needlessly placed in danger fighting fires that ever their full time colleagues in Horry County found difficult. We don't need this.Cluster Development
We need a large crowd at the Council meeting at 6:30 PM on 13 January 2014 in the County Administration Building, 101 N. Main Street, Lancaster to change the 4-3 majority in favor to a 4-3 majority opposed. In the words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 'til its over!" Call Council members, tell them we don't need Cluster Development Matamy Homes style.
As It Could Be
According to Ken Faulkenberry, a member of the Planning Commission, it would be possible to safely reduce the numbers in Ordinance 400 a little and retain the fire safety aspect of the law. "We could use minimum 60 foot wide, 6000 sq. ft lots and keep the 20 foot building spacing rather than the 70 foot wide, 10,000 sq. ft. lots currently specified. This would allow even more open space or more houses without significantly increasing the fire risk."
The Planning Commission has shown no interest in Ken's suggestion, preferring the very risky Matamy Homes approach, apparently desiring to make sure that the Treetops development gets built with 933 homes in the near term.
VWVFD Barbecue SaleThe Van Wyck Volunteer Fire Department will be selling barbecue and baked goods at the fire house on Friday and Saturday 10 and 11 January 2014 beginning at 11:00 AM. Serving will continue until after dinner on Friday and until the food runs out on Saturday. Chicken and pork BBQ plates including slaw, beans and a roll will be available for $7.00. Pork BBQ sandwiches will be available for $3.50 and pounds for $7.00. Eat in at the firehouse or take out. This is a major fundraiser for the Fire Department, so stock up.
CDC MeetingThere will be no Community Development Club or CrimeWatch meeting in January 2014. The weather is expected to be beyond the ability of the heating system to adequately heat the building. The next meeting will be on 4 February.
Feeding the HungryDonations 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.
J.R. Wilt, Editor and Publisher