The Van Wyck News

Volume 6 Number 24
A Voice for Freedom      2 November 2014
    The Lennar Treetops project is moving along rapidly. Four actions are required by County Council; the property must be rezoned from PDD6 to R30P, the Cluster Development Overlay must be approved, the Development Agreement must be approved and the Future Land Use Map must be amended to remove the requirement that the property be dedicated to a community purpose. The Planning Department recommended approval and the Planning Commission approved all four actions on 21 October, essentially without thought.  The Development Agreement Committee has met twice to consider Treetops without action and has a third meeting scheduled for Monday 3 November.
     Despite numerous assertions about property rights, there is no particular reason that County Council must approve the Lennar Cluster Development Proposal. The property owner has property rights, including the right to sell the property, but the citizens of Van Wyck also have property rights, including the right to the peaceful enjoyment of their property without the many disadvantages that a cluster development would bring. The current property owner, Thompson, acquired the property subject to its current zoning as a camp and the restriction that the land be used for a public purpose. There is a market for such properties and the property could certainly be sold subject to these restrictions; the owner's right to sell the property is not abridged by these restrictions and the County has no obligation to the owner to remove them.
     The community, however, has a right to develop itself in accordance with its own often expressed desire to use large houses on large lots and be free of the infrastructure demands that would be placed on it by the high density development proposed by Lennar including but not limited to the demands on its roads, fire and police services. The present zoning of this property as a camp and the restriction on the Future Land Use Map are supposed to provide the community with  protection from development contrary to the interests of the community. The community invested $7MM and thousands of hours of volunteer effort into the camp on the assumption that the zoning and Future Land Use Map would protect its investment.
     The County denies owner's requests for rezoning on a regular basis. At the an October Council meeting there was a proposal by a property owner to build chicken houses on his property that would have required rezoning. His request was turned down based on complaints from the community that the proposal violated their rights to quietly and peacefully enjoy their property. The County turned down the owner's request; the community 's right to avoid chicken house pollution was upheld.
     In similar fashion the VanWyck community's right to avoid cluster development pollution should be upheld.
     What is standing in the way of development of the Treetops property as a public service camp is not property rights, it is greed. The property owner, Thompson, seeks a multi-million dollar reward for its destructive behavior in the handling of the Treetops property. Lennar seeks a hundred million dollar reward for its role in imposing cluster development pollution on the Van Wyck Community. Lancaster County seeks millions of dollars in profitable building permit fees and payments from Lennar as it profits from the destruction of Van Wyck and the local homebuilding industry seeks the $100MM or more in new business that it will gain from the construction of these houses. All of these are short term gains which will be pocketed and by the various organizations, leaving the well known fact that residential housing is a long term cost to the Van Wyck Community and the County as a whole.
     More than that, this Lennar development is making completely inadequate contributions to the long term capital needs of the Van Wyck community. The Van Wyck community and the County as a whole have a serious need for the Dave Lyle Extension, capital cost $120MM, contribution by this community is zero. This community proposes to use school capacity already within the School District for free. That capacity was put into the school system at a cost of about $30k per student and will sooner or later have to be replaced. These costs will be borne by the people of Van Wyck in the form of traffic jams, crowded classrooms and a reduced quality of life because the costs of this development are not fully funded.
     The Lennar Treetops Proposal needs to be denied. Van Wyck needs large houses on large lots that lead to a stable community that can sustain itself with reasonable tax rates. It also needs the Treeetops Camp as an award winning public service  facility.

Vote Tuesday 4 November
     Tuesday 4 November is election day and all registered voters are strongly encouraged to vote. Polls will be open from 7 AM to 7 PM. 
     The entire US House of representatives and both South Carolina US senators are facing election along with all statewide offices (Governor, Lt. Governor, etc.), the entire South Carolina House of Representatives, three seats on Lancaster County Council, although only the District 4 seat is contested, and four seats on the Lancaster County School Board, although only the District 1 and District 7 positions are contested. There are two statewide and one County questions on the ballot. The Sample Ballot provides a list of all the offices in Lancaster County
District One and the text of the three ballot questions. You can obtain your own sample ballot here if you are not in Lancaster County District One. You can print out the sample ballot, fill it out at home and take it with you to the voting location, although you must keep it where no one else can see it. This is because the sample ballot is regarded as campaign material, and campaign material is not allowed to be displayed in the precinct location.
      The candidate information is straightforward; most candidates have websites, you just have to search on their names and decide who to vote for. The state ballot questions are also straightforward; the first will allow charitable organizations to run raffles to earn money for use for charitable purposes; raffles are presently regarded as illegal gambling under state law.
    The second state question would change the position of Adjutant General from elected to appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The Adjutant General is the commander of the South Carolina National Guard and holds the rank of Major General (two stars).
     The local question would impose a new 1% county sales tax beginning in late 2015 and extending into 2021. The proceeds would be used to repave a patchwork of road segments, partially fund a new emergency radio system, fund some unspecified improvements to the county library system and buy a new drug testing facility for County law enforcement.
     This proposal was put together for one purpose only and that is to accustom voters to using the 1% sales tax to fund County projects. When the 1% sales tax was initiated with much difficulty it was to disappear after the Courthouse was built. Now that it is about to disappear, the Taxes Should Never Go Down faction of the County wants to keep it as a permanent source of revenue for the County.
     The one question constantly in front of the Committee that designed the Sales Tax Proposal was "What projects will make the voters vote 'Yes'?" The four projects chosen were the ones that had the largest constituencies. There was enough money available to fully fund everything but road repair, but road repair was the project with the biggest following. The compromise that was reached  made road repair the largest project and partially funded the radio system and library projects.
     The result was a list of projects for the 1% Sales Tax that makes very little sense. The road repair list consists of short segments of roads spread throughout the county. Fundamental questions as to why the radio system is so expensive have never been answered. The money for the library is completely unstructured; it is a gift to the Library Board to do with what it wants. The Crime Lab is such a small project at $238k that it could (and should) have been funded out of the expense budget. All of these projects are worthwhile, but in trying to maximize the appeal of the 1% sales tax as a funding source, the overall project makes no sense, should be voted down and the projects considered for funding as part of the budget process, which must begin including funds for maintenance of property other than vehicles.
     This should be an opportune time to make such a change, because at the state level, the former Speaker of the House, Bobby Harrell, has pleaded guilty to corruption charges and resigned his seat in the House. Mr. Harrell had a virtual stranglehold on everything that happened in state government either via the authority of his office or via his authority to appoint.
     Jay Lucas, the apparent incoming Speaker of the House, is of a mind to change things. The conversion of road repair money to new construction, sending road money first to Charleston, funding of the Local Government Fund, etc. should begin to change as taxpayers and voters begin to exert more effective control over State Government.
     As at the state level, so at the County level. Voters need to take more effective control of County government to assure that things are running as they should. That is certainly not the case today, but the cure is not a perpetual 1% Sales Tax, it is better management.          
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 Savannah the mermaid says it all!
     It was a great Halloween party on 25 October. Games, food, candy, and kids and adults in costume plus beautiful weather and fun things to do made for an excellent time in Van Wyck.      
CDC Fall Calendar
4 November -  Election Day 7 AM to 7 PM  Don't forget to vote. 
29 November - Put up Poles for Lighting of the Way. Time TBA. Chili after.   
13 December at Noon - Christmas Parade with Santa and Mrs. Claus inside the Community Center after the parade. Games and goodies too. Globes and candles out for Lighting of the Way after the parade.
14 December, 4:30 PM - Lighting of the Way begins at the Post Office with a brief service and moves up Old Hickory Road lighting the candles with stops for brief services at Van Wyck Presbyterian Church and Van Wyck Methodist Church. The people then go to Trinity Presbyterian Church and White Oak AME Zion Church for brief services, and end up at the Community Center for hot cider and cookies. This year the poles will be left up until New Years Day so that the candles can be lit on New Year's Eve.    

J.R. Wilt, Editor