The Van Wyck News

Volume 7 Number 3
A Voice for Freedom      23 March 2015
      The Planning Commission passed the Lennar Treetops preliminary plan at its 17 March meeting by a vote of 7 - 0.
     This is a 786 unit development with houses 15 feet apart (7.5 foot side yards). 379 (48%) of these houses have only a single two lane access road rather than the two access roads normally required. With the small separation between houses, a fire originating in a single house is anticipated to spread rapidly from house to house, requiring the rapid outbound evacuation of all residents and simultaneous inbound access by large numbers of emergency vehicles (fire trucks, ambulances and police vehicles).  If the single access road is blocked for some reason, residents will be trapped inside the risk area and also prevented from receiving the potential relief that would be provided by the emergency vehicles. Because of the compromises in construction standards combined with the compromise in access standards, a simple house fire can easily be turned into a conflagration with substantial losses in property value and lives.
     The solution to this situation proposed by the developer and approved by the Fire Marshal and the Planning Commission is to construct an 11 foot wide heavy duty sidewalk parallel to the original access road. This sidewalk would be capable of supporting 80,000 pound vehicles (heavy fire trucks) and could be opened to traffic in the event of an emergency. The obvious problem with this approach is that a blockage of the 2 lane access road is likely to block the sidewalk as well, and even if the sidewalk is not blocked, inbound (emergency vehicles) and outbound (evacuating residents) traffic must be supported simultaneously. The 11 foot wide sidewalk cannot do this even if it remains open when the main road is blocked.
     A second variance granted by the Planning Commission and approved by the Fire Marshal is the existence of a 1750 foot (0.33 mile) long cul de sac, which represents another potential choke situation if the road is blocked for some reason. Residents further down the cul de sac than the blockage will be unable to either evacuate or receive aid from emergency vehicles.
     Front yard are small and roads are narrow, leading to the fact that parking will be on the street every time anyone has a party, den meeting or other function in their home.
     It should also be pointed out that this development is contiguous with the Urban Area across Van Wyck Road, and will be subject to storm water regulations at some point (see the story to the right).    

Stormwater Tax For IL
      In a letter dated 1 October 2014, SCDHEC notified Lancaster County that portions of Indian Land have been designated as "urban" based on population densities from the 2010 census. These areas are required by the Federal Clean Water Act as administered by SCDHEC to manage, account for and, if necessary, clean up their storm water runoff. Affected members of County Council (Mr. Carnes and Mr. McCullough, then also Chair of County Council) decided not to make this matter public at the time. The matter becomes public information now because County Council is required to send SCDHEC a "Letter of Intent" to adopt a rainwater monitoring and control program.  The Letter of Intent must arrive at SCDHEC by 30 March 2015 and must be approved by County Council at a regular meeting.
     The areas of Indian Land currently affected are shown in blue on this map. It should be noted that the area of Van Wyck between the southern border of Sun City and the western side of Van Wyck Road as far south as the northern border of The Ivy Place is included.
     If the Lennar Treetops subdivision is built, the entire area west of  Rte 521 and north of  Rte 75 East (Waxhaw Highway) will probably be included in the stormwater management area since the population density of the development will exceed 1000 people per square mile and the entire area is a floodplain.
     A report describing this program is available here. It is up for adoption at the 23 March County Council meeting (6:30 PM in the County Administration Building) as an Intent to Adopt a stormwater control program. The County will have three years to do the required testing and come up with a program acceptable to SCDHEC and EPA.  County Council has decided that the cost of the program, which is likely to be substantial, will be borne by the affected residents, not by the entire County. The initial impact will be on the property tax bills to be sent in October 2015.   
     Fresh water is a limited resource and must be cleaned and reused. We have a good example of drinking water reuse in Indian Land, where water is taken from the Catawba River at the LCWSD plant near Rte 5, processed, used and sent to the sewage treatment plant near Lancaster High School. The sewage plant removes the pollutants introduced by domestic use, then returns the water to the Catawba River, where it flows down to the LCWSD intake near Rte 5 and is available for reuse.
     The natural cycle is when water is transferred from the earth's surface to the atmosphere by evaporation, moved around by the atmosphere and returned to the earth's surface as precipitation (rain, snow, etc.), generally returning to the surface far away from where it originally evaporated. The precipitation portion of the natural cycle (rain, snow, etc.) is the main source of fresh water in most places.
     As anyone who has relied on well water and septic systems  knows, earth is a very good  purifier of water. Keep your septic tank far enough from your well and you don't have to worry about clean water. When precipitation falls on earth out in the country, it passes through the earth on its way to the reservoir (river) and generally arrives at the reservoir (river) clean and ready for reuse.
     In metropolitan areas, however, precipitation generally does not fall on earth, it falls on concrete or asphalt paving, picking up contaminants from the paving material as well as contaminants deliberately placed on the pavement (think salt used for deicing pavement in winter). Moreover this stormwater is usually collected and dumped directly into the reservoir (river) without any treatment at all - not a good situation for those who will drink this water.
     What the Clean Water Act mandates is to monitor stormwater runoff from metropolitan areas, identify any pollutants present in the runoff water and eliminate them either by eliminating the source of the pollutants or cleaning up the water. The general philosophy is that those responsible for the pollution are responsible for the cost of cleaning up the water. Counties and cities are the governmental organizations closest to the people, and are thus in the best position to develop the programs that will test the water and keep it clean, to identify and punish those responsible for deliberate pollution and to assess the cost of the program on those responsible for needing it.

     As a final note, this should not have come as a surprise and did not have to happen. The Clean Water Act has been in existence for at least 65 years and the cost of doing this should have been included in the development plans that allowed Indian Land to become sufficiently urban to trigger the program.
     Managed development and good planning could have kept the population density of Indian Land below 1000 people per square mile and avoided this situation entirely. Good planning and managed development can keep it from getting any bigger should Indian Land choose this path.
     If Indian Land chooses to become a large city the costs of programs such as stormwater management should be included in the plan.
     Engaging in uncontrolled growth is a decision, not an inevitability.   

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The Future of Van Wyck
    Van Wyck will be caught up in the stormwater program described in the story to the left unless it takes steps to control development in the very near future.  There is no reason that Van Wyck cannot be a very nice town and stay under the threshold of 1000 people per square mile, thus avoiding the stormwater monitoring program. The taxes associated with the program are likely to be substantial whether the County chooses to assess them as rooftop fees or based on assessed valuation.    
Sun City Fire
      Residents are reporting a substantial fire in the Turkey Point section of Sun City on 19 March around 2 PM. Apparently a contractor was either grinding or welding and a spark flew into the grass, setting it on fire. The fire spread rapidly, 911 was apparently called promptly and the IL Fire Department, manned at the time by paid firefighters, responded promptly. This might be called an ideal time to put out a fire, but still 5 or 6 houses were damaged to the point where the residents had to seek other accommodations for the night. The fire was essentially a grass fire; it had not had time to seriously start burning the houses themselves.
     Now suppose this fire had been initiated at a less optimal time for fire response - say a carelessly thrown cigarette or match at 2 AM. There is a 10 or 15 minute delay before anyone calls 911. Fire Department response time is longer because it is all volunteers.
     With an extra 15 or 20 minutes to burn before anyone showed up to put it out, the damage from such a fire would be much more extensive.    

CDC 2015 Schedule
28 March 2015 - Easter Egg Hunt - 10:00 AM - Children bring baskets. Eggs, etc. will be provided.
4 April 2015 - Easter Egg Hunt - Rain Date
7 April 2015 - CrimeWatch - 7:00 PM, CDC - 7:30 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 

J.R. Wilt Editor