The Van Wyck News

Volume 6 Number 3
A Voice for Freedom          24 January 2014

Letter from Councilman Brian Carnes
21 January 2014
Dr. Wilt,
     I am writing to address inaccurate statements in your article "Unrestrained Development Hard on Schools". There were 3 attendees from the School District, however Mr. McCorkle was not one of them. The meeting was held at a request from Chairman McCullough and not the School District. As Chairman of the Finance Committee, I had suggested to Chairman McCullough that we should meet to talk with the School District about an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance as it has financial implications for both the County and the School District. Chairman McCullough agreed and asked me to contact Dr. Moore about scheduling a meeting. Dr. Moore and I agreed that waiting till after the holidays would be the best time. I followed up with him the week of the 6th in order to finalize a meeting date.
     The meeting on the 13th started with a discussion about the Queensbridge subdivision. Dr. Moore had received documents that morning from Ms. Karagounis asking for feedback from the School District. Dr. Moore's initial reaction was that the School District was opposed to a new development. We shared with him that this development (or the concept for it) had been approved by a prior Council prior to the recession. The developer had now decided it was time to begin developing since the market has improved. This lead to a discussion about school capacity concerns, which we discussed. We shared with the School District that there are a number of developments that were approved in the past that are starting to begin, renew or increase their construction. They have already been approved and unless they request a dramatic change, they do not need additional approval from County Council at this point in time.
     There was also an acknowledgment by both sides that the School District has issues with funding new school construction and there were discussion around a variety of issues. At no time did Mr. McCullough, Mr. Willis or myself insist that the growth would continue and that the Cluster Development Ordinance was essential. In fact, we only talked about the Cluster Development Ordinance in passing. As stated above, our main topic of discussion was an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and it's requirements that a plan be developed on how to time and pay for public facilities. The meeting was very cordial and all parties agreed that we need to continue to meet on at least a quarterly basis going forward. Dr. Moore suggested that we meet again after the School Board retreat.
     In regards to Queensbridge; as well as all currently approved subdivisions; County Council does not have to approve them again unless there is a change to zoning. The Planning Commission has to approve the site plans for approved subdivisions, these do not come back to County Council for approval. The current County Council has not committed the School District to $50MM for new schools. In 2013, I believe the current Council only approved one new subdivision.
     Finally, it is my understanding that you are saying that no one will answer questions about this meeting. Since I have not received any correspondence from you, I would suggest that maybe you are asking the wrong people. Hopefully for future articles, you will verify you sources and information to make sure that the information is accurate.
Brian Carnes
Lancaster County Council - District 7
(803) 288-3290

Note: My thanks to Mr. Carnes for writing.
The material to which Mr. Carnes refers in the letter above was published in the Van Wyck News dated 17 January 2014.
Development Impact
on Schools Meeting
     The big question: Why was the substance of the meeting with the school system on Monday 13 January 2014 not disclosed at the County Council meeting  prior to the final vote on the Cluster Development Proposal? There are now three versions of what happened in print; there is no question that the meeting occurred on the morning of 13 January. Certainly it was significant, certainly it was relevant to the Cluster Development vote at the Council meeting that evening. Why was the information withheld from County Council?   
     This story was discovered by accident when opponents of the Cluster Development Proposal were calling School Board members in the afternoon of 13 January 2014 trying to recruit people to speak against the Cluster Development Proposal at the County Council meeting in the evening of that same day. What the Cluster Development opponents found that afternoon were School District people upset and even angry about a meeting concerning Cluster Development that had taken place that same morning.
    The Cluster Development vote was taken with four Council members unaware of this event. Cluster Development passed and became law 4-3.
      There are now three versions of this story in print. The first is the one referenced above from the Van Wyck News of 17 January 2014. The second is the letter from Brian Carnes written in reaction to the Van Wyck News story. This version appears verbatim to the left of this story.  A third version
dated 22 January 2014, written by Carolina Gateway staff member Reece Murphy,  appears in the Carolina Gateway dated 22 January 2014.
     After the Council meeting on 13 January we moved to confirm details of the meeting between Council and the School District. We confirmed what we had but otherwise got stonewalled. No one would talk on the record. It was clear that the meeting had taken place and was being covered up. On Friday 17 January the decision was made to publish what was available thinking that the stonewall might break.
     The story published on 17 January contained a couple of errors. Don McCorkle was not at the meeting and County Council did not approve 2000 homes during 2013. County Council approved rezoning for what eventually became the Retreat at Rayfield (384 homes) and Reid Point (5 homes) while the Planning Commission, appointed by and responsible to County Council, approved the construction of these plus Ansley Park (166 homes) and the Estates at Audubon Lake (125 homes) for a total of 680 homes. This information comes from an inspection of all 2013 meeting agenda packages and minutes for County Council and the Planning Commission. A copy of the detail is here. At an average of one student per house and 1000 students and an average of $25MM  per school, this represents a capital demand on the school district of $17MM.
     As to what happened at the meeting, you, the reader, are going to have to make up your own mind. The scenario is well explained by the idea that some participants in the meeting between the County and the School District decided to cover up the fact that the meeting took place at all and clammed up, accidentally leaving just enough for us to piece together the story that appeared in the Van Wyck News on 17 January. When this story appeared these people suddenly needed a party line story that reflected more favorably on themselves. Mr. Carnes sent me the email that appears to the left
on 21 January. Someone developed a sudden willingness to talk on the record to Reece Murphy, enabling him to write the front page story for the Carolina Gateway on 23 January.
     Read and decide for yourself.
-----J.R. Wilt, Editor and Publisher   

Privacy Policy

Treetops Rezoning Bought and Paid For
    Now it is Matamy's turn to claim its prize, the $350MM Treetops project to be developed with the Cluster Development Overlay custom designed for the purpose.  The Treetops rezoning project will be heard by the Planning Commission on 18 February. For those interested the approval procedure for the Treetops rezoning is available here.
     Matamy Homes needed a special Cluster Development Ordinance in order to develop the Treetops site to 933 homes, one with very small spacings between houses and very narrow streets. The Planning Department and Planning Commission wanted a Cluster Development ordinance as a "tool" for developers to spur residential development. Quick deal: Matamy will hire and pay a consultant to develop the ordinance it needs and let everyone use it. Everyone involved, Matamy, Planning Department, Planning Commission and County Council, will recite faithfully at every opportunity how this is beneficial to the entire county. It is, after all, illegal to use the law to discriminate in favor of a single organization; passage of a "Matamy Homes Profit Opportunity Law" would lead to serious negative consequences. The fact that the ordinance is custom tailored for Matamy's needs at Treetops and has a number of serious flaws is beside the point - it was "free."
     If all goes according to plan the local people who make money from homebuilding will feed off the Treetops project beginning very soon. As the project builds out over the next several years it will be time for the taxpayers to pick up their share of the capital expense bill. Taxpayers will face $25MM for new schools and some similarly large amount to rebuild the surrounding roads, provide EMS, police and fire service, etc. It should also be remembered  that residential developments do not generally pay their own way; they consume more in County services than they pay in taxes. The 80,000 taxpayers in the county could easily be required to contribute $750 each to the capital cost of the Treetops project plus the ongoing expense of supporting it.     

CDC Meeting
     CrimeWatch and the Community Development Club will meet on Tuesday 4 February with CrimeWatch at 7:00 PM and the Community Development Club at 7:30 PM. Both meetings will be in the Community Development Center.  
Comprehensive Plan Kickoff
     The Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan is being completely rewritten this year by the Catawba Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) subject to the approval of County Council. CRCOG plans to have a kick-off to acquaint the public with this program on 30 January at the Native American Studies Center, 119 South Main Street, Lancaster between 5:30 and 6:30 PM. The Comprehensive Plan affects every aspect of the life of every citizen in Lancaster County; come and get an idea what they plan to do to you. Brochure.    
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.