The Van Wyck News
|Volume 8 Number 1
||A Voice for Freedom||3 January 2016|
Community Building, 5036 Old Hickory Road. Come and get your questions answered about the School District Bond and IL/VW Incorporation. This meeting is open to the public and will be on the record with news media invited.
School District Bond IssueAt $199MM to be financed by a 15 mil property tax increase over 20 years, the school district expansion program to be funded by this bond issue will put the School District on the path to a bright future. The Buford, Andrew Jackson and Lancaster systems will get new, multipurpose buildings that will allow them to adapt their older buildings to the needs of their modern educational programs. The Indian Land system will get the capacity it needs to educate its students without the need to bus them long distances.
This is intended to be a one time effort, not to be repeated for at least ten years. In the case of the Buford, Andrew Jackson and Lancaster systems there is no question that these changes will last a long time. The projects were proposed by the schools themselves, they got pretty much what they asked for, and the schools are anticipated to grow slowly.
The problems in Indian Land that led to the need for the bond issue were entirely created by the utter failure of County Council to manage the growth of Indian Land. Indian Land did not create this problem, Indian land has a 5 - 2 minority on County Council. A substantial number of non-Indian Land Council representatives participated in creating the uncontrolled growth that resulted in the need for this bond issue.
It should be immediately clear that if the uncontrolled residential growth in Indian Land continues unabated, it can overwhelm the new seats created in the Indian Land system in a short time. If this happens there will be no alternative to busing Indian Land students to other school systems with room for them.
Fortunately, County Council has tools in the works that will make it possible to bring the unrestricted development situation under control. The new Comprehensive Plan, approved early this year, and the new UDO, to be finished over the next few months, will form a body of law that should allow the problem to be brought under control. County Council will have to give up its current policy of selling exceptions to the law in development agreements and considerable attention will have to be paid to making sure that skilled political manipulators do not offer atonements at the last minute that negate the good features that have been built into the law as it developed.
The best way to understand the Town of Indian Land organization's incorporation proposal is to realize that it represents a way to control all development in 58.41 square miles (37,382 acres) of prime real estate - enough room for a city of 50,000 people, but with a current population of only 20,000 people. This translates to a profit opportunity measured in billions of dollars.
The Town of Indian Land people are asking to be trusted to do the right thing with this profit opportunity without clearly explaining what they are going to do. "Trust us - we are your friends and neighbors" they say. A billion dollars requires a lot of trust.
The Town of Indian Land will be controlled, especially in the first few years, by the people who created it. These people will then be free to zone property, write development ordinances and develop the undeveloped area of Van Wyck to suit themselves. State law specifically provides that only those elected to the offices may exercise the authority granted to the Mayor and Council members. Local people will have to appear before City Council much as they have to appear before County Council now. In fact, the Town of Indian Land then will be almost as large as the County is now; there will be little difference in the problems associated with obtaining a voice in government.
The Town of Indian Land people are asserting that no property tax increase will be necessary as a result of incorporation because services are being contracted through Lancaster County and the Town will have about $3MM in revenue coming in from the state. Although this may be acceptable for the first year of two, service levels for these services will be unacceptably low and by the time the initial mayor and Council finish their two year terms there will be large cries for a property tax increase.
There are six municipalities in South Carolina between 17 and 22k in population having budgets ranging from 10 to 18 MM. The City of Lancaster has a population of 10k and a budget of $23MM. All of these municipalities have water and sewer systems to provide some of their revenue, which the Town of Indian Land will not. Each $1MM in property tax revenue will require a 7 mil property tax in the Town of Indian Land.
The willingness of the County to subsidize the Town of Indian Land by providing services will not last long; the reason that the County is supportive of the Town of Indian Land is that the County is going broke trying to provide services in Indian Land and needs a new taxing authority to take on some of this. That new taxing authority would be the Town of Indian Land and the source of the tax money would be Indian Land residents.
As an example, State Law provides that the Sheriff has no obligation to provide law enforcement inside the boundaries of a municipality. The Lancaster County Sheriff is willing to provide the service as long as someone is willing to pay the bill. If it exists, the Town of Indian Land will have to foot the bill, but the County will set the price. There is no reason for the County not to charge the full freight given that the Sheriff has no obligation in the area under state law.
Another situation to consider is the very large roads and traffic mess that the Town of Indian Land will inherit. Granted that the situation was caused by the County, but the County has no way to solve the problem and will be only too happy to pass it on the the Town of Indian Land.
All this adds up to the fact that if the Town of Indian Land Incorporation is successful, large property tax increases in Indian Land and Van Wyck will soon follow. To some extent this is part of the program, because large property tax increases will force property owners who are land rich and cash poor to sell their land to pay the taxes, putting land on the market for development. From the Town of Indian Land viewpoint, this was the objective all along
Indian Land needs to take a hard look at incorporation to see if the cake is really worth the candle. Certainly from Van Wyck's viewpoint the Town of Indian Land Incorporation Proposal is a disaster. From the Indian Land viewpoint, do you really want to take control of your land area from the County and give it to these people with their lack of transparency, unwillingness to indulge in straight talk and willingness to use political power to hurt minority populations? They claim expertise, but the only expertise I see is that of getting referendums approved by very small minorities of voters.
County Council faces elections this coming year, with two incumbents not standing for re-election. This represents a major opportunity to effect some changes on County Council. Maybe it's time to have a real discussion about the issues surrounding incorporation, what the benefit might be and what it will cost.
One thing is sure and that is that the matter must not be forgotten or you will end up reading in the paper one day next fall about how the Town of Indian Land referendum passed by a lopsided majority of a very small number of voters who turned out for the election. That's what these people do.
Van Wyck DevelopmentWhat might Van Wyck look like if it were allowed to develop on its own?
A group of Van Wyck residents has been working with the Planning Department and the consultants for the new Comprehensive Plan and UDO for some time to develop attractive possibilities that will be within the scope of the new laws and not require action by County Council.
The entire area of Van Wyck included in the Indian Land Incorporation proposal and well to the south as well is zoned Rural Living in the new Comprehensive Plan and planned for 1 dwelling per acre. Several properties are developing along these lines at the moment without the need for zoning changes, developer agreements, homeowner's associations, etc.
The result would be a slowly developing community of large homes on large lots with lots of trees, low taxes, low crime and immediate access to I-77, shopping and the Charlotte airport via the Dave Lyle Extension when it comes along - a very attractive community for very high end housing.
If a school ended up in Van Wyck, there is a very good possibility that a Walk-to-School community could grow up around it - a group of houses within a mile of the school where everyone could walk safely to and from school.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
2016 promises to be a momentous year on the local, state and national levels. Pray for the wisdom to do the right things.