700-acre plan would be ‘centerpiece’

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comSeptember 9, 2013 

— A massive lakefront development could soon change the landscape of Lake Wylie’s northern shoreline.

NW Lake Wylie LLC, an affiliate of Northwood Investors LLC, recently purchased 670 acres at the Seven Oaks property in Gaston County. About 30 of those acres stretch into York County. The developer is working with Belmont leaders to put a plan in place for more than 800 upscale homes.

Steven Hinshaw, partner with the development, said Thursday the full buildout would take 10 or 12 years.

“It’ll be a new centerpiece for the lake,” Hinshaw said of the yet-unnamed project. “There’s a need for master planned development.”

The overall plan is mixed use. More than 20 acres would be set aside for commercial, another 10 for a public park. The property includes five miles of shoreline. Homes would be on one-acre lots.

“It will be a low-impact development,” Hinshaw said. “I believe (former landowner) Crosland was looking at almost 2,000 homes there. We’re looking at 800 or 900 with this plan.”

The impact on surrounding areas could be many. Hinshaw’s group focuses on the jobs brought and tax base formed as the development takes shape. Others at the environment.

“Though the density reduction is certainly good news, the fact remains that any development on the shoreline of the lake – as well as the feeder creeks and streams – is cause for concern,” said Lake Wylie Lakekeeper Ellen Goff.

Kara Newport, executive director with neighboring Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, said the proposal is “in line with the vision” of the garden.

“The plan is low impact with opportunities to access the nice resources of the property including the garden, (Carolina) Thread Trail and Lake Wylie,” she said.

Goff said her group isn’t anti-development. It’s anti-sedimentation into the lake. As long as contractors and subcontractors use the best techniques for keeping runoff out of waterways, and as long as municipalities monitor and comply with regulations throughout the project, the Lake Wylie Covekeepers won’t have issues.

“Preventing pollution is the issue,” Goff said. “Protecting the local environment and our public waterway is the issue. If all parties involved in this project take their responsibilities to the land and water seriously, Seven Oaks can be a welcome neighbor.”

The mainly peninsula property sits where the Catawba and South Fork rivers meet Catawba Creek. Seven Oaks formerly was home to Daniel R. Stowe, the garden’s namesake.

Steve Allen, planning services manager for York County, said he hasn’t seen plans from the developer on the 30 acres on his side of the state line.

“We haven’t seen anything on paper,” Allen said. “They haven’t brought us anything.”

Part of the reason may be the Lake Wylie acreage could be developed for residential use by right. It wouldn’t require rezoning or approvals similar to what the project still needs in Belmont. There likely would be special utility or other agreements needed in York County. Allen said it may be the developer is waiting on the approval process in Belmont to outline plans here.

There are similar projects where a residential project straddles the state border, including one on Zoar Road and another in the Fort Mill area.

“It’s not uncommon,” Allen said, “but typically a developer will come in and meet with us as a courtesy.”

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