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VAN WYCK – Van Wyck's downtown of mostly older homes and quiet streets will remain intact for now.
County Council voted down a rezoning request Monday night that would have allowed businesses on a few acres at the corner of Steele Hill and Old Hickory roads.
The rezoning request had been on council's past two agendas, but property owner Glen Small requested that it be removed both times. Still, Van Wyck residents came to the council meetings each time to speak against the rezoning.
They turned out again Monday night, with most saying that they were against the property being rezoning.
"Please vote no and help the long-term residents of Van Wyck maintain and continue to improve our property," said longtime resident Jim Williams.
Resident Jane Massey believes the roads will not be able to handle increased traffic and there is no public sewer in the area to support business development.
Massey asked council to protect and preserve Van Wyck's unique character.
"Van Wyck is a residential community," Massey said. "It is a historic, little community."
Betty Broome pointed out that there will be two very large retail centers – at Sun City Carolina Lakes and across U.S. 521 from Sun City – in the future.
"We do not need more business or retail space," Broome said.
Small, also a Van Wyck resident, told council members that he wants to tear down two dilapidated homes on the property, and renovate a historic home for use as a lawyer's office. He said Kershaw, Heath Springs and Lancaster all have attorneys' and doctors' offices housed in large, older homes in residential districts. He would also like to build a brick, L-shaped building for offices, and preserve some greenspace where people could eat at picnic tables.
Small said he was willing to pay $120,000 to install an engineered sewer system for the development. He reminded council that the B-1 business zoning, which he was requesting, does not allow for businesses such as restaurants.
"The worst thing we can do is not do anything," Small said. "I'm not asking for anything different than what the other communities have."
Attorney David Cook, who also lives in Van Wyck, said "not everyone is fervently opposed to this type of development."
Cook said he believes Small has a good plan for the property, and thinks property values will increase in the area because of the development.
Council's vote was 4-3 to deny the rezoning request.
Councilmen Rudy Carter, Bryan Vaughn, Fred Thomas and Larry Honeycutt voted to deny, while Councilmen Wayne Kersey, Wesley Grier and Jack Estridge voted against denial.
Honeycutt said Lancaster County has very few "quaint village areas" left. Van Wyck is the same now as it was 50 years ago.
"It's a nice, nice little community," Honeycutt said. "I'd like to see it stay that way."
Estridge said he knows Small's family, who built Small's grocery stores in Kershaw and Heath Springs years ago.
"What can you buy in Van Wyck except for a load of brick or a gun?" Estridge said. "I think they need some business in that town."
Kersey said he didn't think Small would "do like a lot of other people – take his profits and run."
Vaughn said he struggled with his decision to deny the rezoning request. He said while the public was overwhelmingly against the rezoning, he personally felt that some businesses would "bring some life to Van Wyck."
"It's going to change," Vaughn said. "You can only hold those fort walls for so long."
Contact Jenny Hartley
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