Charlotte’s urban sprawl has reached Indian Land, South Carolina. Located south of Charlotte, down Highway 521 and just across the NC/SC border. With a population that more than tripled from 2004 to 2014, Indian Land seems to be experiencing the biggest growing pains in the region.
Prompting the surge in growth were the Del Webb Sun City Carolina Lakes community (for active adults 55+) and the opening of the southern portion of I-485 (Charlotte’s beltway). Indian Land is in Lancaster County and wedged north of Highway 75 and the state border. Outside the Indian Land area, most of Lancaster County remains predominantly rural. The contrast between rapid growth from urban sprawl and the large rural areas of the county have left county planners playing catch up and needing to update zoning ordinances.
To address the issues, Lancaster County Planning Director, Penelope Karagounis, launched a major initiative to rewrite the Unified Development Ordinance. Karagounis says, “One of the dilemmas we have is that when you cross the state line, we have different regulations. The reason you see so much strip development is that a lot of the property on Highway 521 is in our General Commercial District zoning. Our current Unified Development Ordinance allows for strip centers. After becoming planning director, we designed a Highway Corridor Overlay District, and we’re trying to create better aesthetics for the buildings along 521. Now that we have that in place for new commercial projects, we can force parking lots to be hidden, with more landscaping and better signage.”
With rapid population growth comes rapid development. To assist with road costs, the County Council adopted an ordinance of not taking over maintenance for subdivision streets. Developers must construct the roads as public streets with county standards, but they will be maintained privately (through the HOA). Many would claim this is offset with lower SC taxes, but is important to know before buying a house in Lancaster County.
“The growth in Lancaster County is reflective of regional trends,” Karagounis said, “which indicate that more people from other states are moving to the Carolinas.” As the fastest growing county in South Carolina, Lancaster County seems to be addressing their growth issues head on and dealing with them before they become problematic.