York County leaders debate growth plan

A proposed long-range York County plan that calls for extending development east along the Dave Lyle Boulevard corridor has some County Council members voicing doubts.

The proposed York County comprehensive plan, updated every 10 years and developed over the last 18 months with input from citizens, was unanimously approved on an initial council vote Monday, though some council members questioned it.

Council member Michael Johnson said the urban boundary’s extension “says that we are open for business. But no one has said we have a plan to pay for that when the time comes.”

Johnson and council member Christi Cox said York County doesn’t have the money – estimated at $225 million by a 2015 Winthrop University study – for its part of the road work and utility infrastructure.

Johnson said he would support the proposal on the initial vote, but “I struggle with extending the boundary for an area that is truly not ready.”

Cox agreed, asking council members to “listen to the people,” and referring to problems with rapid growth in the Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Lake Wylie areas.

Cox said the county “can’t afford” the project.

Audra Miller, the county’s planning director, said the proposed urban development boundary also was changed in other areas of York County.

Miller said the proposed boundary was extended to the state line in the Lake Wylie area and expanded to include more of the Interstate 77 corridor in the southern part of York County.

“It’s a future land-use map,” Miller said Tuesday. “It’s just saying we anticipate the growth there, we feel it will go there eventually, but not necessarily tomorrow.”

Miller said a county advisory committee and planning commission members who worked on the proposal have recommended extending the boundary.

Local and state officials have discussed whether to extend Dave Lyle Boulevard to connect with U.S. 521 in Lancaster County for more than 15 years.

A Winthrop University study last year said that building a nine-mile connector between I-77 and U.S. 521 would create more than 1,000 jobs a year, attract more than 20,000 new jobs and generate almost $2.4 billion in economic development each year.

Officials have said the project would require both federal and state transportation money.

Council Chairman Britt Blackwell supported the development plan proposal, saying “if we’re going to focus on an area we can grow economically, this is a natural. I don’t see anything but logic for it.”

Council member William “Bump” Roddey agreed, saying York County has to “get it on our radar as a focal point” before addressing how to accomplish it.

“It would take a tremendous amount of pressure off the growth in Fort Mill,” Roddey said. “It would swing some growth this way, because people want access to (Interstate) 77.”

Council member Robert Winkler agreed that the development plan makes sense. “It is a plan where we think growth should happen,” he said.

By Jennifer Becknell, Staff Reporter with The Herald