The Van Wyck News
|Volume 6 Number 9
||A Voice for Freedom||15 April 2014|
Treetops Development AgreementOne of the conditions imposed on Matamy Homes for the rezoning of the Treetops property to R30P with cluster development overlay was a development agreement detailing who was going to do and pay for what in connection with the development. A draft Development Agreement has been received from Matamy Homes; a copy is available here and a discussion of the various terms follows.
Payment to the County for the benefit of the School District of $500 per house on closing with the retail purchaser. A second payment of $500 per house also on closing with the retail purchaser to the County for the benefit of the School District if all school age children residing in Treetops are guaranteed the ability to attend Indian Land Schools. Note: Cost of a new school is $20k - $40k per student of capacity depending on the type of school (elementary, middle or high school). With an average cost per student capacity of $30k, Matamy's proposal for the sharing of the cost is Developer – 1.6%, Public – 98.4%. Given the situation in Indian Land Schools, it is very unlikely that residents of the Treetops development will be going to Indian land; it is far more likely that they will be sent to Lancaster. It is very clear that the School District cannot afford to guarantee that students will go to Indian Land Schools for $500. For me, the only way that this development makes any sense at all is if the developer agrees to provide a school in the development itself and create a “Walk to School” community. This would not only eliminate the school infrastructure problem, it would eliminate the automobile trips necessary to drop off and pick up students at school, thus greatly reducing the traffic problem. To this point Matamy has refused to consider any such proposal. Payment of $75.00 for the Fire Service and $75 for the Sheriff's Office at each closing. Note that this is a one-time payment per house, not a monthly contribution. Sec 4.01A.
Developer will be entitled to 933 building permits no matter what. (Sec. 4.01B). Note: This is a substantial increase over the 800 homes in the sales presentation given to Council previously.
Developer will pay County's reasonable unreimbursed costs related to this agreement subject to an unspecified cap. (Sec 4.02).
Developer agrees to pay fees imposed by other agencies (e.g., LCWSD) (Sec 4.03A) and for building permits, inspections, etc. (Sec 4.03B).These payments are in lieu of impact fees. (Sec. 4.03C). Note: Lancaster County deliberately sets its fees for building permits, inspections and the like very high and makes a substantial profit each year by imposing these high fees.
Developer is responsible for providing all roads within the development including entrance roads and intersection improvements at the entrances required by SCDOT. Note: Road width is still 20 feet, too narrow to permit emergency vehicle access with parking on one side of the street. A move is afoot to increase the minimum required road width to at least 22 feet. No standard is provided for driveway width or length and no provision is made for limiting parking to one side of the street. The new standard must apply here when it is adopted. Developer is responsible for providing all improvements required by the Traffic Study dated February 2014. Note: The traffic study is deeply flawed in that it was specified, ordered and paid for by the developer rather than the County with reimbursement by the developer. The hours studied did not include the 6 – 7:15 AM period of the intense traffic jam on Rte 521 caused by 1000 parents dropping off their children at ILES. It is also not clear that traffic from all new developments scheduled for construction in the relevant time frame was included in the study. The only improvements required by the (flawed) traffic study are the construction of southbound left turn lanes on Van Wyck Road at each of the entrances to the development and conversion of the current Through, Right turn lane on Van Wyck Road at the Rte 521 intersection to a Left – Through – Right lane with accompanying changes to the traffic signal timing. Developer has agreed to provide and pay for a “phasing study” and “warrant studies” by traffic consultants. Sec 4.04(1)(a).
Developer will install an overlay on Van Wyck Road from Rte 521 to the end of the property or will work with SCDOT to install an overlay with Developer contributing up to $350k to improvements to Van Wyck Road. Note: Van Wyck Road is in need of repaving, not an “overlay,” at a cost of $330k per mile for two lane road repaving according to DOT. To repave the 6 mile length of Van Wyck Road would cost about $2MM plus the cost of the southbound left turn lanes discussed above; call it $2.1MM. Matamy's proposal for cost sharing is Developer – 16%, public – 84%. (Section 4.04(2)(a)).
There was a proposal to transfer the Treetops site from the Van Wyck Fire District to the Indian Land Fire District. It is my understanding that this move is opposed by the Van Wyck Fire Department, the citizens and residents of Van Wyck and the Fire Commission and will not happen.
There are several more pages of legal boilerplate in the agreement, but the essence of the situation is above.
I would provide one final note that there is no particular need to develop the property at all other than the developer's greed and the owner's determination to make a substantial profit from the destruction of the Treetops Camp, which was a great asset to the community while it was allowed to exist. It is within Council's authority to decide that use as a camp is a higher and better use of the unique characteristics of the property than use as another housing development. There is an active market for camps and substantial local interest in returning Treetops to its former use as a center for using the camping experience to help abused and neglected children heal from their trauma.
All Council needs to do is to reject the rezoning request and instruct Thompson that as the owner of the Treetops property they have an obligation to secure the property against being the public nuisance that it has become over the last few years. If Thompson still wishes to sell the property they can sell it as a camp on the market for camps and pursue the local interest in purchasing the property and returning it to its previous use as a camp.
Easter Egg Hunt
An Easter Egg Hunt was held on Saturday 12 April at the Community Building. A large number of area children and their parents had a great time courtesy of the Van Wyck Women's Club and the Easter Bunny.
From left: SC Rep. Eddie Tallon, Sr., Sheriff Barry Faile, SC Supreme Court Justice John W. Kitteredge,On Monday 7 April the Sheriff's Department held a party in the Old Courthouse to celebrate a national achievement - accreditation by the national Commission on Acreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies. (CALEA). Accreditation was actually achieved in November 2013, but the first celebration was postponed due to snow in January. Of the 300 law enforcement agencies in South Carolina only 36 have been certified by CALEA as meeting the 483 standards designed to characterize the best in law enforcement. Of 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, only 1000 have been certified by CALEA.
Lancaster County Sheriff's Department National Certification
LCSD achieved state certification in 2012. Lancaster County residents can be confident that when they call the Sheriff's office or 911, the service that they receive is the very best, and is constantly reviewed so that it will stay the very best that is available anywhere. Sheriff Barry Faile has made good on a promise made when he was first elected to provide a Sheriff's Department that is second to none. Congratulations to Sheriff Faile and the men and women of the LCSD!
Comprehensive Plan UpdateAn update on the status of the Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan will be provided by the Catawba Region Council of Governments on 17 April at the Native American Studies Center, 119 S. Main St., Lancaster beginning at 5:30 PM. Senior Planner Robby Moody will provide information concerning population trends in the area.