Developer pulls TreeTops rezoning request

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Cluster subdivision overlay district proposal still on agenda

By Julie Graham

Mattamy Homes has withdrawn its request to the county to rezone a 622-acre tract along Van Wyck Road for a residential development after opponents challenged its cluster subdivision overlay district proposal.

Nearby property owners received notice of the zoning withdrawal late last week.

“They want to make sure the text amendment will be approved and supported by the County Council,” said Penelope G. Karagounis, the county’s planning director. “For the time being, they would like to pull the rezoning application.”

The Canadian homebuilder filed two applications with the Lancaster County Planning Commission, the first asking for the rezoning of the property at 9070 Van Wyck Road and the second for the allowance of cluster subdivisions for the entire county.

A cluster subdivision overlay district allows developers to build more homes per acre by adding the acreage of open space, or undevelopable land such as floodplains and lakes, into land that can be built on. This allows for higher density housing, with more homes per acre and varied lot sizes and layouts.

Mattamy Homes wants to build up to 1,200 homes at the former site of the TreeTops children’s camp. 

Carolina Gateway, sister newspaper of The Lancaster News, could not reach Bill Kiselick, president of the Carolinas division of Mattamy Homes, for comment by press time.

Opponents consider cluster subdivisions dangerous if a misguided developer’s interests lie with high volume homebuilding over making the property visually appealing and preserving natural land features.

The proposal drew fire from several Van Wyck residents at the June 18 Planning Commission meeting, including James Brooks of Van Wyck Road, who said the cluster subdivision proposal is being “driven by developers’ interest with little benefit to county residents. This is about less restrictions on developers and more profits.” 

Jane Massey of West Rebound Road urged commissioners to go back and define everything in the ordinance to prevent clearcutting and other unintended consequences from the cluster ordinance. 

J.R. Wilt of Rock Hill Highway said the proposed ordinance was poorly written and a “tool to cram more residences into property. This tool is a moneymaker for builders and not anything else.”

Members of the Planning Commission discussed the cluster subdivision proposal at a workshop July 2. The issue remains on the July 16 meeting agenda.