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School board hears county growth report
Google Map
The western half of the large swath of land shown between I-20 to the south at Ole Still Lane and Green Hill Road to the North will become a 1,700-home subdivision called Coldbranch during the next 15 to 20 years, according to a report on county growth presented to the Kershaw County Board of Trustees on Tuesday. In her report, County Planning Director Carolyn Hammond said Coldbranchs lots are among more than 2,100 being developed, primarily in the West Wateree portion of the county. - photo by Google Maps

With the inclusion of a 15- to 20-year residential project called Coldbranch, Kershaw County could see residential construction on 2,130 new lots during coming years. How the county -- including the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) -- will deal with that growth was the subject of a presentation County Planning & Zoning Department Director Carolyn Hammond made to the Kershaw County Board of Trustees on Monday night.

Hammond made the presentation before during Kershaw County Council’s retreat in January. KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan invited Hammond to make the same presentation to the board, which met Monday at Pine Tree Hill Elementary School. Morgan said he wanted to make sure trustees understood what the district might be facing in the future.

So far during Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, Hammond’s office has issued 335 new residential permits, the department’s best year since 2007. She said at the height of the housing bubble, in FY 2005, the office issued 583 new residential permits.

“We are catching up,” Hammond said. “At the end of January, we were within $54,000 of what we earned in all of last (fiscal) year. Permit activity is our main revenue source, and that goes to show just how busy we are.”

As the county deals with the growth represented by the increasing number of permits, Hammond said it will need to update its 2006 comprehensive plan, especially in the areas of future land use and transportation needs.

“One of the things in our future land use map, which shows where development should go and where we want development to go -- not necessarily where it’s going. But one of the things we want to do in the planning department is put development where it needs to be and not just let it sprawl,” Hammond said.

She said more single family homes in the $175,000 to $300,000 range; more new small business, in both existing and new structures; and industrial expansions and projects are all on the way. Hammond’s primary focus was on residential growth. Upcoming projects include:

• Kelsney Ridge off Stephen Campbell Road -- 26 lots are being built out in Phase 2A and developers are submitting plans for Phase 2B, consisting of 46 new “high-end” single family homes.

• Longview, between Wildwood Lane and Smyrna Road -- developers recently finalized 66 lots, 36 of which have been sold to Great Southern Homes for immediate development. The next phase, Longview South, will add 49 additional R-15 lots (the “most restrictive,” Hammond said), and all the homes will sell in the $200,000-plus range.

• Saddlebrook Phase II, off U.S. 1 South -- in late spring, this second phase will be completed, offering 128 lots for “moderate, mid-priced” housing.

• Hound Hollow, off Sanders Creek Road -- a large acreage, single-family development on private roads which received final approval recently for approximately 15 10-acre-plus equestrian lots for single-family dwellings.

• Wedgewood Phases 7 and 8 -- 24 lots in these phases were approved in summer 2014, and C&C Builders of Columbia has already started construction on a number of mid-priced single-family homes. Hammond noted Wedgewood’s developers originally slated the area for commercial development, but asked for rezoning to residential when they determined the area was not suitable for commercial construction.

• Haig’s Creek, near I-20 Exit 87 (Elgin) -- recently received approval to build out an additional 76 lots and already has 123. Hammond did not think construction of this new phase would start anytime soon and noted road improvements would need to be made there to handle the additions.

Hammond then went on to talk about Coldbranch, a development which has been in the works for several years. It will be located between Whiting Way near I-20 Exit 87 and Green Hill Road on a combination of parcels totaling about 1,000 acres. During a 15- to 20-year build out period, Coldbranch -- which is the final design phases -- will be the site of a mix of 1,700 large, small and multi-family homes, according to Hammond.

“That’s about the size of the city of Camden,” she said. “Current trends in the 2010 Census told us that people now want smaller homes, smaller yards, especially younger people.”

Hammond said the county is trying encourage to Coldbranch’s developers to make the community “livable” and “walkable” for older people as well. She said Whiting Way would have to be four-laned to accommodate the additional traffic generated by Coldbranch residents. Green Hill Road and White Pond Road would have to be looked at as well, she said.

Answering a question from the board, Hammond said Coldbranch could be similar to The Summit, in northeast Columbia, with a main road through it with neighborhoods spinning off of it.

Trustee Mark Sury asked whether Coldbranch would -- like The Summit -- include land for middle and high schools.

“That is negotiable,” Hammond replied. “That’s a possibility. I’m not going to speak for the developer.”

“Land is part of the problem,” Morgan added, “but if you look at the cost of a high school, it’s $125 million on a good day. Land’s probably the least of your worries.”

Hammond said it is now becoming standard across the country to try to get schools in neighborhoods.

“You have to be careful. Sometimes developers will give you the land they can’t build on … or it’s an odd-shaped parcel or something and you end up having to do a custom design, which is very costly. I’ve seen it where the only thing you can build is a three-story school … which would double or triple what you would normally pay,” Morgan said.

Hammond noted that of the 2,130 possible future residential lots only 15 -- Hound Hollow’s equestrian lots near Cassatt -- are outside the West Wateree. In addition, she said there many other single-family and manufactured homes being built which are not in subdivisions, as well as apartments and businesses being permitted on a “daily basis.”

(Coming Monday: the board continues discussions on possibly bringing back construction and sales tax referenda to voters in 2016.)