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A group of Indian Land residents, fed up with what they say is the county’s lack of movement on dire issues affecting the community has reinvigorated its efforts to garner support for incorporation as a municipality.
Though activity by the special interest group Indian Land Voice flagged somewhat last year, the group now has new officers, a second wind and is pressing forward in the process.
New IL Voice President Melvin Threatt said in addition to moving ahead with the push, the group is undertaking an increased effort to get the question on the ballot.
“We’ve already contacted the secretary of state’s office and talked with the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, which helped us with a survey and map,” Threatt said.
“What we’re going to do in the coming months is continue to gather names on the petition.”
In order to get the question on the ballot, the petition needs the signature of at least 15 percent of the community’s approximate 12,000 registered voters.
Threatt said IL Voice would like to gather 2,500 signatures in order to account for growth since the 2010 Census and to provide a cushion. To date, they’ve gotten about 200 signatures.
To accomplish its immediate goal, the group plans to take the petition – and information about the proposed incorporation – to the people by setting up locations throughout Indian Land, Threatt said. Others in the group are going to go door to door.
“We’re reaching out to the community,” Threatt said.
“I think it’s important for people to realize that when they sign the petition, they’re not saying ‘I’m for it,’” he said. “It’s simply to get it on the ballot for a vote.”
According to the organization’s new map, the proposed city of Indian Land would include all areas covered by the Pleasant Valley and Indian Land volunteer fire departments, a 39.16-square-mile area running from the tip of the Panhandle to just south of S.C. 75.
The city would have three basic departments – a planning department, fire protection maintained by the two fire departments and a parks and recreation department, which could be created through sponsorship of youth sports teams at current county-owned parks.
Law enforcement for the community would continue to be provided by the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at no cost unless the community wanted more coverage, based on infromation Sheriff Barry Faile presented at the April 29 IL Voice meeting.
Like 57 other incorporated South Carolina communities, an incorporated Indian Land could sustain itself through business license taxes, utilities franchise taxes and state sales tax revenue based on the city’s population, Threatt said.
Indian Land issues
IL Voice was formed in 2011 by a group of residents who felt Lancaster County Council was not addressing problems associated with Indian Land’s explosive growth.
Threatt and others in the group point to council’s lack of action in reworking the community’s B-3 business zoning and its refusal to consider recommendations in the U.S. 521/S.C. 9 Corridor Study, a “road map” for managing growth in the Panhandle commissioned by the county and released in 2010.
Threatt said the same issues remain in 2013 that have plagued Indian Land for years, and the situation is getting critical.
An example is the number of gasoline stations and convenience stores springing up along the northern portion of Charlotte Highway, all of which are allowed without county approval under current B-3 zoning.
He and others in the group believe that without taking control of growth for itself through incorporation, Indian Land’s issues will continue to be ignored.
“County Council cannot make a decision,” Threatt said. “We’ve got B-3 zoning problems still and we’ve got a traffic nightmare, and they’ve still done nothing.
“We want to live in a nice area like Indian Land, but if we don’t take care of it, our lifestyle will change, and eventually our property values will decrease,” he said. “Do we want to have a city or keep letting the council do what it’s been doing? People have got to make a choice.”
IL Voice Secretary Jane Tanner said if the number of people at the April 29 meeting is any indication, local interest in incorporation is beginning to grow.
Whereas IL Voice meetings had been drawing only a handful of residents for quite some time, last month’s meeting overflowed its venue at the Del Webb library with a standing-room-only crowd of more than 80, with others turned away at the door.
Tanner said she believes with the explosion of renewed development along the U.S. 521 corridor in Indian Land over the past several months, residents are finally beginning to see the need to take control of their community’s growth.
“I think that they’re seeing that we’re not getting help on B-3 (from council),” Tanner said, “that it’s turning out to be a fiasco with the B-3 moratorium being lifted and the (B-3 study) committee disbanded.
“I think people are finally starting to look at things differently,” she said. “You can talk about it a lot, but when it hits you in the face, it makes a big difference.”
For more information about the Indian Land incorporation effort, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see a map of the incorporation area, visit www.carolinagatewayonline.com.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151