The Van Wyck News

Volume 7 Number 1
A Voice for Freedom      10 February 2015
Incorporation Benefits
The Right to Farm
     One of the things that happens to farmers in a developing area is that large numbers of people move in to a rural area that do not appreciate farming. They do not like the smells associated  with spreading manure, the noise associated with the operation of planting and harvesting equipment early in the morning and similar activities normally associated with farming.  Often they can take their displeasure out on the farmer by filing suit under general nuisance laws against excessive noise at certain hours of the day, objectionable odors, etc. These can be a real problem for the farmer because there are many new citizen each of whom can file suit, but few farmers who must respond to them all.
     One thing that the Town of Van Wyck could do is pass a "Right to Farm" ordinance which says in essence that the farmers were here first and are entitled to perform the functions normally associated with farming such as planting, plowing, harvesting, raising farm animals, etc.without interference. Newcomers must accept the normal temporary inconveniences associated with farming activities. Such an ordinance can further provide that bringers of lawsuits found to object to normal farming activities are responsible for court costs and legal fees on both sides  resulting from such suits.           
     The Treetops cluster subdivision has not yet been contracted despite two and one half years of concerted effort by the Planning Department, Planning Commission and County Council to make it so. Council allowed Mattamy Homes to station a full time consultant/salesman in the Planning Department to develop a Cluster Development Ordinance around the Treetops Project, passed the Cluster Development Ordinance and was prepared to pass all the custom zoning and Future Land Use Map changes, only to be embarrassed when Mattamy withdrew from the project.
     Lennar Homes immediately took up the torch and Council greased the skids for approval in three months under the "whatever the developer wants the developer gets" mantra. Lennar Homes wanted, and got, until 15 October 2015 to decide whether or not to try to build the Treetops Cluster Development. With any luck Lennar will see what Mattamy saw, that the Treetops Cluster Development does not make sense, and will follow
the path that Mattamy trod into oblivion.

IL School Expansion
     The School District has announced a 400 student expansion of ILMS and a planned 500 student expansion of ILHS to be completed over the next two to three years. These are nothing more than placeholders; there are already enough houses permitted in Indian Land to fill these student positions in the schools.
     There is no evidence that the School District has done anything but kick the can down the road another couple of years. At that time the School District will need to decide where to send new students as all Indian Land Schools will be at or above capacity. Options will include trailers, busing to schools with capacity and new construction.   

CDC 2015 Schedule
3 March 2015 - CrimeWatch 7:00 PM, CDC - 7:30 PM
4 April 2015 - Easter Egg Hunt - 5:00 PM
4 July 2015 - Fireworks with VWVFD
12 Sep 2015 - Fall Festival - 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
28 Nov 2015 - Put up poles for Lighting the Way
2 Dec 2015 - Christmas Parade - Noon
13 Dec 2015 - Lighting the Way - 4:00 PM

Industrial Zoning at Landsford State Park
     At its meeting on 9 February 2015 County Council passed first reading of an ordinance to change the zoning of a parcel 3000 feet from the eastern portion of Landsford State Park from residential to I - 2, Industrial likely to have a negative effect on surrounding property. The request was made by the Lancaster County Economic Development Corporation with the intention of locating a "state of the art sawmill" on the property with the promise of some new jobs. The vote was 5 - 2 with Councilmen Bundy and McCullough opposing.
     This seems like a very poor choice to me - trade an irreplaceable future riverfront recreational opportunity for which the property is already owned by the state for a few jobs that could easily be located somewhere else.  The property owner owns 1300 acres in the tract, 1100 of which is already zoned industrial (I-2). The property is all vacant land, the owner got it rezoned a few years ago in the belief that it would be worth more zoned I-2 than residential.    

Dave Lyle Extension
     There will be a presentation on the Dave Lyle Extension and what it could mean for Lancaster County at 5 PM on Thursday 26 February 2015 in the County Administration Building, 101 N. Main St., Lancaster.

Pressley's Recycling
     After pursuing every delaying tactic known to man, Pressley's did not show up for its final court date and its request for judicial review of claims that it had repeatedly violated the DHEC Cease and Desist order was denied. DHEC filed suit against Pressleys on 26 January 2015 alleging numerous violations of the Cease and Desist Order with potential fines of $10,000 per day for each violation. Beve Lynch and Jane Tanner have been working this problem for several years.                  

Lancaster County
Criminal Justice
     The Criminal Justice System is one of the core functions of government – one of the first things that government is supposed to do for citizens. When the bad guys are causing us harm and we call the police, response is supposed to be quick and the bad guys are supposed to be promptly caught, taken to jail and punished.
     The Criminal Justice System actually has three parts, the Crime to Arrest part, which is handled by the Sheriff, the Arrest to Punishment part, which is handled by the Solicitor and Public Defender, and the jail, which serves as a kind of a storehouse between the two.
     The Sheriff had the crime to arrest part going well in Lancaster County until last year, when County Council failed to fund FY 2015 of his Five Year Plan and further indicated last fall that funding for FY 2016 would not be forthcoming either. This leaves the Sheriff about $1MM short of where he needs to be to keep up his end of the Criminal Justice System in Lancaster County.
     The Arrest to Punishment part of the Criminal Justice System is a different story. The Solicitor and Public Defender dispose of far fewer cases than the Sheriff brings in.  As a result large numbers of accused criminals are being freed on bond and spending long times – sometimes years – in jail awaiting trial. The jail population has been well above capacity for years because about 70% of the inmates are awaiting trial. The “speedy trial” guaranteed to all accused by the US Constitution is not being provided by Lancaster County. As a result in December 2013  Judge Brian Gibbons, the Chief Judge of the Sixth Circuit, issued an order containing some speedy trial standards that must be met or prisoners will be released with charges dismissed.
     The Solicitor and Public Defender responded to Judge Gibbons' order by requesting $300k for additional staff in FY 2015. County Council responded to Judge Gibbons order by funding $125k (41.7%) of the $300k that the Solicitor and Public Defender said that they needed  and denied the Sheriff's $543k additional funding request, thus crippling the entire Criminal Justice System. County Council is now discussing the need to spend $30MM or more to build a new, larger jail to relieve the overcrowding in the present jail which is caused by large numbers of inmates awaiting trial.
     This is not exactly rational behavior on the part of County Council.
     We now have a new Solicitor, who has hired some experienced help, is applying for some grants and is committed to solving the problems in front of him. The Public Defender is working the problem and the Sheriff has submitted a new five year plan, which is expensive because he did without for a while while crime kept increasing. Getting the Criminal Justice System working the way it should will solve the capacity problem at the jail, although the facility is still old and creaky.
     The question mark is whether County Council will realize that core functions of government come first and fund both the Sheriff and the Solicitor/Public Defender adequately to fix the Criminal Justice System both for the moment and in the future. Crime is going to increase, and the Sheriff and the Solicitor/Public Defender need to staff to handle the increase. We certainly don't need accused criminals being released with charges dismissed because the County denied them a right guaranteed by the Constitution.
     If County Council funds this program adequately, the Special Tax Districts in Indian Land will not be needed. If not, the Special Tax Districts might provide an alternate way to obtain the needed services.
     Council Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 now held by Council members McCullough, Bundy, Harper and Carnes are up for election in 2016.    

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A Belated
Happy New Year!

2015 Awaits!

Brianna Adams and her Aunt at The Rock
Brianna Adams Is 12
     Brianna Adams, granddaughter of Ollie Bass, former President of the Van Wyck Community Development Club, celebrated her twelfth birthday at Sky High with friends and classmates recently. A student at Indian Land Middle School, she got to paint her news on the rock in front of the school. Happy Birthday, Brianna!    
Van Wyck
     CN2 released a video segment recently that contains a statement by Councilman Brian Carnes that the Treetops Cluster Development will "elevate the level of the community and give residents more opportunity to welcome new neighbors and invite more people into the community to see what a great place Van Wyck is."
     The attitude expressed by this statement clearly shows the problem. County Council has the authority to regulate land use in Van Wyck. County Council's funding model requires a continuous stream of large residential housing developments as County Council uses the profits from development agreements and building permits to fund its day to day operations. A developer willing to build and a property owner willing to sell to the developer are all that is required to complete the picture. County Council has been willing to change the zoning law and Comprehensive Plan as required to give the developer whatever the developer wants without reference to any actual community planning or reference to what current residents of the Van Wyck community think or feel. County Council has been presenting its self serving, community destroying actions as "for the benefit of the Van Wyck Community and the County."
J.R. Wilt Editor