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Dear York County Council Members,
On Monday night [Oct. 1] you denied Second Reading of an ordinance to provide reasonable and enforceable standards for the colors used on the exterior of commercial buildings in the Lake Wylie area. The primary incentive for the creation of this ordinance was the shocking and intrusive colors used on a recently painted building occupied by a title loan business on S.C.49 in Lake Wylie.
Cutting off the progress of this proposal at the point of second reading was a master stroke for the county. This means there will not have to be one of those contentious and wasteful public hearings on the proposed ordinance. Just think of all the valuable time Council will save by not having to listen to a bunch of citizens, particularly when those misguided citizens think turning a building into a sign in order to subvert and bypass the existing sign ordinance is a bad idea.
These citizens would probably also have other silly ideas, such as a belief that structures with exteriors that are ugly and obnoxious tend to draw and legitimize other structures with exteriors that are even more obnoxious and ugly as each structure tries to out-ugly and out-obnoxious the ones before. Besides, you, as councilmen, don’t need this kind of input from mere residents and property owners. What could they possibly know, anyway?
These citizens would also believe creating another Cherry Road in York County is not a good idea. After all, look at how successful the businesses on Cherry Road in Rock Hill have been, and what a thing of beauty Cherry Road is as a result of the absence of meaningful standards. And, what the heck, the millions of dollars that Rock Hill has spent and is spending to clean up the mess resulting from unrestrained and irresponsible development is obviously worth it to protect “property rights.” This is what nearly always happens after it becomes apparent such practices destroy a community’s image and are disastrous for local property values. Many communities have learned this lesson the hard way, so why shouldn’t the York County Council make sure Lake Wylie learns it the same way?
It was also good to see “Property Rights” defined by each of the council members (with the exception of Bruce Henderson) as meaning property owners should be able to do whatever they please on their properties. The U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Holy Bible were all liberally used to make and support the point of unrestrained property rights.
You made it clear a property owner should not have any responsibility regarding the impacts his or her actions have on the usability or values of nearby properties or the community in general. I’m certain all of your constituents would agree, especially those whose neighbors run strobe lights facing in all directions from dusk to dawn, and/or play rock music over large exterior loudspeakers 24 hours a day, and/or whose pet elephants trumpet repeatedly all night long. And, as in the case of the building in question, spray paint their roofing shingles. Most have not thought of that, but you have endorsed it.
You also effectively utilized a very clever tactic wherein requests on Thursday and Friday from multiple individuals for drafts of the ordinance were refused by the Planning and Development Department. The reason given, in writing, was the draft had not been formally introduced to the public, and, therefore, could not be released until after Council meeting. [It’s] Council policy, we were told.
It was also clever that, despite the above denial of access, copies of the proposed ordinance were strategically released to opponents of the ordinance as early as Saturday, and were circulated and discussed by those prospective opponents prior to the Monday night meeting. This, of course, was in order to maximize the likelihood there would be negative comments at the meeting, and to minimize the likelihood of any positive comments related to the actual content of the proposed ordinance. And you limited comments to two minutes. Ever tried to make a meaningful and comprehensive comment on a complex issue in 120 seconds? Brilliant tactical move on your part.
When you forced all the comments into this abbreviated format and then eliminated the public hearing, you made sure no thoughtful, comprehensive comments could be made by interested citizens who feel high community standards are a good idea.
So the net of all this is a reasonable ordinance never saw the light of day, but did see some dark, shady corners. The public were successfully denied an opportunity to understand and speak about the proposal. The aesthetic character of Lake Wylie for the foreseeable future was determined, in large part, by a group most of whose members don’t even live in Lake Wylie. Councilman Henderson voted “No,” spoiling an otherwise perfect miscarriage of justice. Thanks you for your attention, consideration and public disservice.
Don Long is a Lake Wylie resident.