South Carolina’s newest town is now official. But residents say they want to keep the new municipality as rural as possible.
The Secretary of State’s Office last week issued a certificate of incorporation for the small Van Wyck (rhymes with “van bike”) community in Lancaster County. Residents inside the future town’s borders voted by a nearly 9-to-1 margin to incorporate after state officials authorized the August 15 election.
Van Wyck residents first applied for incorporation in March 2016, with community leaders saying they want more power to control growth sprawling its way south from the Charlotte suburbs.
“We’re looking at that changing in a matter of the next couple of years,” said Sean Corcoran, an attorney who helped oversee the election process. “A lot of the existing, very rural character of the area is shifting to kind of high-density suburban area.”
The new town is located along the Catawba River roughly ten miles southeast of Rock Hill and roughly 25 miles south of downtown Charlotte. The former railroad stop has roughly 300 people living in its present borders, but Corcoran said they hope to annex more homes once a town council is operating.
Van Wyck Incorporation Committee Chair Linda Vaughan said residents know growth is coming, but felt like Lancaster County was not doing enough to on behalf of their community’s interests. She said the new town will be better able to craft its own zoning rules and control which new housing developments or businesses come to the area.
“We just don’t want to lose that character of this close-knit community,” she said.
A legislative panel approved the town’s incorporation request back in May, leading to the election. Van Wyck residents had to submit lengthy documentation to the Secretary of State’s Office, including how the new town would provide services, how it would raise the revenue to pay for those services and the signatures of at least 15 percent of residents who would live inside the town’s proposed borders, among other requirements.
The next step is electing a mayor and town council. Corcoran said he hopes a new election can be held around mid-November.
There are few businesses in Van Wyck. A historic brick manufacturing plant was once the town’s largest employer, but it went out of business during the past recession. Most residents are either retired or work in nearby Charlotte, Rock Hill or Lancaster.
But Vaughan said the entire point of incorporating is to keep the area from becoming developed, unlike the Indian Land community to its north. Indian Land is also seeking approval to become incorporated.
“This way, we feel like we can control our growth,” she said. “Just to see all the growth that has gone on in Indian Land, we do not want to see that take away the flavor of our community.”