Many of you are aware that a public hearing was held Monday night at York County Council concerning the 660’ Seperation requirement of the Lake Wylie Overlay. It was a very long public meeting that went for over 4 hours. All sides of the issue were presented to the County Council and the overwhelming majority of the residents believe the ordinance needs to be changed one way or the other. Recommendations ranged from increasing the restrictions further to repealing the restrictions all together. Overall it seemed that a majority agreed that it needs to remain in place but revised to be less restrictive. The video in this post is my presentation to the council. I put it up here so it’s  easier for everyone to find and hear. Many of the points I was going to discuss were already covered by others so I wanted to make sure I didn’t bore council by just repeating what others had said and provide fresh information. In this post, I want to expand on some of the points in my presentation and also add additional information to other points that were mentioned. 

 

This ordinance should’ve contained a way for the Zoning Board of Appeals to issue variances. That would’ve likely solved much of this and we wouldn’t be revisiting this issue. But since variances weren’t included and we need to revise the ordinary anyway, we might as well fix as much as we can through this process. 

 

I used the number of nail salons and liquor stores as an example of how arbitrarily the businesses were selected because some people don’t like seeing them. I’m not against nail salons or liquor stores and if they can be prosperous it’s awesome. Ordinances should be developed due to science, facts, and research data. Not because someone feels like something is wrong or they just don’t like it. Feeling and emotions shouldn’t be the driving factor in government. 

 

The distance specified in the ordinance is also arbitrary. Someone (probably in the planning department) drew circles around each facility that somebody felt was too many and they increased the sizes until the circles covered any vacant land. We can tell that the distances were made up because now our council representative wants to increase the distance to 1,000’ because a portion of a commercial lot falls outside the 660’. Again, these distances should be determined by science and facts, not feelings. 

 

Arbitrary decisions by the government should worry everyone. Today that decision could help you but tomorrow or after a change in representation it could be a detriment to you. Businesses and people who start businesses don’t like uncertainty and won’t spend money which is what we want. Let’s use restaurants as an example. We all want new places to eat, from a mom and pop diner to fine dining. Surprisingly, about 60% of restaurants fail in their first year of operation, and 80% fail within 5 years of opening. We don’t need to increase the possibility of restaurants failing by adding arbitrary rules or enabling the possibility of arbitrary rules that may affect them. 

 

Another council member mentioned we have other exclusionary ordinances and don’t let landfills go just anywhere. That’s true, but that exclusion is based on science and data because of years of research showing the negative effects of having a landfill next to residential or light commercial uses. 

 

The ordinance being brought out for public debate is absolutely the best way to handle it. This transparent, open process allows for all sides to be heard, time for evaluation of data, and the opportunity to vet any unintended consequences. At a minimum, we need to make sure that this ordinance or future ordinances don’t create a situation as egregious as making a property unsaleable. With the current ordinance, a commercial property located between a gas station and paving company is unsaleable because the only businesses that would locate there are prohibited. All of us would be extremely upset if the government told us we couldn’t sell our house or business.

 

Ultimately, the revision isn’t going to make everyone happy but it’ll hopefully be the best compromise to address everyone’s concerns.

‘All That Is Required For Good Men & Women To Live Under Bad Rule, Is To Do Nothing’