The Van Wyck News
6 Number 19
||A Voice for Freedom||6 September 2014|
|Incorporate Van Wyck
Van Wyck has been effectively disenfranchised by the political process in Lancaster County. Van Wyck provides perhaps 80% of the land area but only 20% of the registered voters in Lancaster County District One. The District One representative on County Council, Larry McCullough, was originally elected in 2008 by Sun City and Indian Land voters and has made it increasingly clear that he, and through him, County Council, regards Van Wyck simply as a source of land for the expansion of Indian Land. That there is an existing community in Van Wyck that has its own ideas for the future of the area is simply irrelevant in the eyes of these people, who have the power to impose their will on the residents of Van Wyck via their ability to control land use, a power given to the County (or the City/Town if there is one) by the State.
The Treetops situation is typical of what is happening. Mattamy Homes originally proposed building a 1000 unit cluster development on the original site of the Treetops camp for disadvantaged children in northern Van Wyck. Van Wyck citizens believe that the Treetops site should be restored to its original purpose, for which it is uniquely suited. For eighteen months the battle raged with Van Wyck citizens opposing the development at every opportunity. In the end the project failed, not because of concern for the views of Van Wyck residents or for the destruction that the project would wreak on the Van Wyck culture and community, or the long term damage to the County itself, but because the builder decided that the project would not be profitable.
At the 25 August County Council meeting it was made clear that another builder has been found for the Treetops site, and a new application is expected at the beginning of January. It was also made clear that this new application would be placed on a fast track for approval without regard to the beliefs of citizens of Van Wyck, and that other, similar developments would follow in short order, also without regard for the citizens of Van Wyck, who believe strongly that this conduct is highly destructive not only for Van Wyck but for the County as a whole.
Outvoted 3:1 in District One, Van Wyck is completely without the "vote them out" political resources necessary to defend itself from this assault on its existence.
Fortunately there is another way. Under State law, Van Wyck has the opportunity to create its own political entity and assume responsibility for its own future by incorporation as a city or town. As a city or town, Van Wyck would be able to continue to receive services such as police and fire protection from the County while providing other services, such as land use planning, for itself. If the city or town of Van Wyck were to take responsibility for its own land use planning, the county would have no authority at all over land use policy within the City or Town of Van Wyck.
Freedom is never free, and this would not be free either, but need not be expensive or beyond the means of even the least fortunate in the community, as you will see if you read on.
This opportunity to incorporate is available now, but must be exercised quickly or it will disappear. We have perhaps six months to act before County Council approves large scale residential developments in northern Van Wyck. In addition, sooner or later Indian Land will decide to incorporate as a city. Once this happens, Van Wyck will become an expansion area for the City of Indian Land and the approval of the City of Indian Land will be required by the state for Van Wyck to incorporate on its own.
Right now we can do this. Citizens of Van Wyck need to look hard and decide to take control of their own land use policy now or likely lose the opportunity forever.
Community DiscussionWe are attempting to organize a community meeting and possibly a pot luck supper to discuss this complex issue, allow people to express opinions, ask questions and get them answered, etc. in the very near future. To implement incorporation registered voters living in the Original Incorporation Area will need to sign a petition requesting an Incorporation Election. Property Owners living outside the Original Incorporation Area will need to sign a Petition Requesting Annexation. Failure to act affirmatively will most probably result in cluster subdivisions sprouting in Van Wyck within the year as County Council drives Indian Land style development into Van Wyck. Please send questions, comments and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Incorporate Van WyckFormation of a new city or town is a two step process, the original incorporation and annexation. The original incorporation is subject to a number of requirements and a complex procedure. Once the original area is incorporated, expansion of the new city or town by annexation is fairly simple. These procedures will be described separately.
Original IncorporationIn a nutshell, the Original Incorporation is decided by the voters living within the Original Incorporation Area. The Original Incorporation Area must be well defined by roads or similar fixed boundaries, be at least five miles from any other Incorporated Area and have a population density of at least 300 persons per square mile.
First at least 15% of the Registered Voters living within the Original Incorporation Area must sign a petition requesting incorporation. This petition is combined with information about how the citizens will be provided with governmental services such as police and fire protection and forwarded to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has the information reviewed by the Joint Legislative Committee on Municipal Corporations, which will approve or disapprove the request. If approved, the voters residing in the Original Incorporation Area hold an election to decide whether or not to incorporate. If the decision by the voters to incorporate is positive, the Secretary of State will issue a Certificate of Incorporation, which becomes effective when the voters living in the Original Incorporation Area hold a second election to elect a mayor and four Council members at large to serve for two years. When the Mayor and four Council members are qualified and installed in office, the Certificate of Incorporation becomes effective and the municipality begins operations as a government.
After two years, the voters elect the Mayor and Council members in accordance with the Form of Government specified in the original petition for incorporation.
AnnexationOnce the Original Incorporation Area is incorporated, it can and generally does expand by Annexation. Annexation is generally controlled by freeholders; a freeholder is the owner of at least a 10% interest in a piece of property. If a piece of property is contiguous with (shares a little of a border with) the (possibly expanded) incorporated area, the property can be annexed by the Freeholder requesting annexation and the municipality accepting the request. This procedure can be applied to groups of properties that are contiguous with one another as long as at least one of them is contiguous with the incorporated area of the municipality.
There are other ways to annex property , potentially including property owned by those who would prefer not to be annexed, but there are extensive protections for the property rights of those who would prefer not to be annexed as well.
Where are We?We have an incorporation area that meets the basic criteria of contiguity, at least 300 persons per square mile and five or more miles from any other incorporated area. The incorporation area that we will be using is this one, with 429 persons, 238 property owners and 244 registered voters residing in the 1.43 square mile incorporation area, for a population density of 300 persons per square mile.
At the beginning we plan to obtain police protection, building, housing and electrical code enforcement and recreational services from Lancaster County on the same basis as it was obtained before incorporation. Fire protection will be provided by the Charlotte Road Van Wyck Volunteer Fire Department with support from the Lancaster County Fire Service as it was before incorporation. There will be no increase on taxes for these services due to incorporation; Van Wyck residents are also County residents and already pay County taxes for these services.
Water supply and water distribution will be provided by the Lancaster County Water and Sewer District on the same basis that it is provided to all residents of Lancaster County as it was before incorporation.
Wastewater collection and treatment will be handled using septic systems supervised by SCDHEC, as it was before incorporation.
Storm water collection and disposal is not required.
Planning and zoning services may be provided by Lancaster County to some extent, but land use policy will be controlled by the new City Council with contract support from the Catawba Region Council of Governments and a part time inspector to be hired.
Incorporate Van WyckWe see Van Wyck extending eventually from the intersection of Rte 521 and Van Wyck Road south to Waxhaw Village Road, then west to the river along Waxhaw Village Road to Old Hickory Road to Industrial Park Road to the river at the undeveloped portion of Landsford State Park, then north along the river to the southern border of Sun City then east along the southern border of Sun City and Van Wyck Road to the place of beginning. We would include the small area east of Rte 521 from the intersection of East North Corner Road south to Bill Sweatt Road, then east along Bill Sweatt Road to the state line, then north along the state lone to E. Rebound Road. then west along E. Rebound Road to Rte 521. This puts both AJ State Park and its surrounding area and the undeveloped eastern portion of Landsford State Park in the City of Van Wyck. We would assume the responsibility of protecting these areas from inappropriate development and eventually developing the Landsford State Park area into a recreational facility.
Scope, Costs and Benefits
We believe that the first priority for the northern portion of this area is the nailing down and preservation of the path for the Dave Lyle Extension and its associated commercial corridor. There is an extensive flood plain between Rte 521 and Van Wyck Road in the general area of Waxhaw Road (Rte 75 east) that must be considered in any plans for the area. We believe that provision of the transportation corridor from Rte 521 to I-77 is critical to the success of the central portion of Lancaster County.
Currently developers are looking to build age restricted communities similar to Sun City on the land between The intersection of Van Wyck Road and Rte 521 and the intersection of Rte 75 and Rte 521 extending west to Van Wyck Road. This includes the Treetops property. Under the current County policy of giving developers whatever they want, these retirement communities will be approved by the County early in 2015 and the Dave Lyle Exension will get a lot more expensive and less convenient.
The Lancaster County Economic Development Corporation (LCEDC) is currently revising its strategic plan and has identified two areas in Van Wyck which it would like to develop. The first is the Texas Sims property near the intersection of Rte 5 and Rte 521, which LCEDC would like to develop as a business park of some type. This area is right across RTE 521 from AJ State Park, not with frontage on Rte 521, but one lot back from frontage on Rte 521. We believe that this area is too close to AJ State Park for this type of development.
The second area LCEDC is targeting is a manufacturing area along the river that includes the undeveloped Landsford Canal State Park area. We believe that this is an entirely inappropriate use of this property. To use river frontage for manufacturing is a waste of an important resource and to use previously dedicated but undeveloped park land for manufacturing borders on criminal negligence.
Above are four instances of the County putting forward land uses that will be highly destructive to Van Wyck, but there is at present nothing that Van Wyck residents can do to prevent the County from doing these things, some of which will happen in six to nine months. Van Wyck residents have at present no say in land use in their community. That's why we need the City of Van Wyck. With the City of Van Wyck, control over land use is ours; the County has no voice. We can have the City of Van Wyck in six months if residents get their act together and sign the incorporation or freeholder petitions as appropriate. Yes it will cost a little money, probably less than you pay for fire insurance. With that money you buy the ability to develop the area in which you live in a rational way. You buy the ability to run for positions that will make the decisions and the ability to vote out people in those positions if you don't like what they are doing. YOU BUY FREEDOM and the ability to control your own future, which you do not have now.