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LAKE WYLIE --
If folks want new commercial building color standards in Lake Wylie, they’re going to have to say so.
York County Council last week approved first reading of an ordinance that could set up color and design standards for commercial properties along S.C. 49 in Lake Wylie and require existing businesses to fit in. But several members said their voting was aimed at bringing the issue to public hearing, not necessarily endorsing it.
“This’ll be the first ordinance of its kind,” said Councilman Chad Williams. “Doesn’t mean we can’t do it, but it’ll be the first of its kind.”
The main issue behind the push is the Automoney Title Loans, which opened last month at 4573 Charlotte Highway, after painting the building bright yellow and the roof shingles and shutters green. That building recently drew several complaints during a county staff held meeting with residents to talk about future planning of that growing unincorporated county area.
“There’s been an overwhelming response of support for this,” Councilman Bruce Henderson said of creating an ordinance.
Neutral colors would be the new rule for businesses. It also would require businesses, including Automoney, to comply. That idea didn’t sit well with Councilman Eric Winstead.
“I have serious problems with this,” he said. “Primarily because whatever standard is set will be set by someone’s opinion, and opinions change.”
Williams had similar concerns, though “probably not quite that strong,” he said. He and fellow councilmen David Bowman, Britt Blackwell and Curwood Chappell voted to pass first reading with an eye toward public hearing. Williams said the vote doesn’t mean he’s “fully enthusiastic” about the ordinance, but he wants more discussion about it.
“It’s certainly going to bring out the attention, so if there are people out there who really are going to pitch a fit, we’ll definitely be hearing from them,” Blackwell said.
Henderson says there is a point where “colors you can see from a satellite picture” negatively impact nearby businesses. He also said comments from his community are almost entirely against the Automoney building or others like it.
“I am to reflect their views, otherwise I am not representing,” Henderson said of his constituents.
Winstead, however, said businesses should be allowed “whatever competitive advantage to survive” and residents have an option when they pass the building.
“Don’t look over there,” he said. “Obviously, the color is doing its job if you’re looking at it and to know about it.”
Winstead doesn’t support a future public hearing.
“To me it is the first step down a long, dark road of continuing to take freedom away from businesses based on somebody’s opinion,” he said.
Chappell echoed similar sentiment about another issue at Lake Wylie, business signs along roadways.
“I resent the government telling me what I can put up to advertise my place, on my property,” he said. “When you do that, whether you know it or not, you’re signing away your freedom.”
Council passed the second of three needed readings to change the county sign ordinance. Temporary signs would only be allowed 16 square feet, and can be displayed only from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. or the close of business, whichever comes first.
Henderson called the move positive for Lake Wylie, where county staff recently cited several violations. There are signs “littering the highway,” Henderson said.
“I’ve seen it in some places in parts of the county where you have multiple signs one after another, after another, after another,” he said.
A business having 20 or more signs in a small space can be a safety issue, he said.
“After a while it gets to the point where it’s not just a matter of government control, it’s a safety issue,” he said. “If you have somebody trying to read every one of those signs then, my gosh, they’re going to run head on into somebody.”