York Tech upgrade plan gains initial OK from Rock Hill leaders

adouglas@heraldonline.comFebruary 24, 2014 

  • Big plans for York Tech

    York Technical College is making progress on a 20-year master plan for its campus. Major proposed changes include expansion of some classroom buildings, construction of a new health and human services academic building and a redesign of the campus entrance that includes building a new, under-construction perimeter road.

    The improvements will accommodate an expected additional 2,000 students over the next 10 years, college officials say. York Tech expects to roll out the construction over four phases.

    The school plans to expand its library and include dining options, retail space and academic support resources in a new “learning commons.” Plans for growth also include a new parking garage, larger parking lots, an outdoor amphitheater and a new building for the school’s automotive program.

— York Technical College will have more room to grow over the next 10 years after the Rock Hill City Council initially approved on Monday night the school’s request for a planned educational development district.

The development district paves the way for the college to undertake several capital improvement projects on undeveloped land surrounding the Anderson Road campus.

Some parts of York Tech’s plans are “conceptual,” officials said. But, so far, it “looks like a real good plan,” Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols said.

Echols congratulated York Tech on its plans and said the college’s improvements will benefit the community.

One resident who lives close to the campus raised two concerns Monday night. Tom Matthews, who lives in the Woodvale subdivision close to York Tech’s southern border, said he would like the college to consider energy facilities other than a central plant to serve the campus.

As part of the college’s 20-year master plan associated with the planned educational development district, York Tech is considering building an energy plant – possibly on land it owns near Matthews’ subdivision. Matthews said he’d prefer the college to build smaller heating and cooling facilities that serve individual buildings, as opposed to a larger, single facility that could create noise pollution for nearby homes.

Earlier this month, in response to Matthews’ concern, Rock Hill Planning Commission members agreed to review any future energy plant plans separate from York Tech’s existing development plans. That process, city officials said, will give people a chance to voice concerns or ask questions.

On Monday, Leah Youngblood, a senior planner for the city, told council members that York Tech does not yet have specific plans for a central energy plant.

Matthews also is concerned, he said, about a planned campus expansion that could affect the surrounding area during periods of heavy rain. Rock Hill engineers have reviewed the plan, Youngblood said, and city officials believe there is no outstanding concern about stormwater runoff or retention associated with York Tech’s building plans.

In general, Matthews said, he’s in favor of York Tech expanding its buildings and improving its campus.

“All I want is discussion and answers,” he said. “They may have good answers. They may have a good plan.”

York Tech started public discussion of developing a new master plan around 2007. The long-range plan could call for up to $100 million in gradual investment to existing buildings and new construction.

Part of the plan includes a new “Enterprise Campus,” attached to York Tech’s main campus, that will serve collaborative partnerships between faculty and researchers and private businesses. Other proposed additions include adding a new “quad” or event lawn, doubling the library’s square footage and revamping the campus’ main entrance.

A major part of the college’s planned upgrades is a road reconfiguration that will create a more pedestrian-friendly environment and new signs aimed at helping first-time visitors to find their way around campus.

Council members also initially approved an annexation request on Monday that would bring York Tech’s entire 120-acre campus into Rock Hill’s city limits. Currently, some college-owned properties are located outside city limits, in York County.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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