Lake Wylie, S.C.—a suburb of Charlotte, N.C.—has tripled its population to 12,000 since 2000. Its high-achieving schools, low taxes, and nearness to Charlotte’s jobs are behind its boom.
But the town has grown so fast that it wants to ban any further growth. Council members and residents argue that schools have become overcrowded, its water system is failing under increased demand, and commutes that typically took 20 minutes have swelled to 90 minutes, The Wall Street Journal reports. Once known as a sleepy home to summer camps and fishing cabins, Lake Wylie has become a booming suburb.
In December, the town’s York County Council placed a 16-month moratorium on commercial and residential rezoning requests and consideration of any new apartment complexes or subdivisions.
“People say, ‘You’re a business owner. Why do you want to stop growth?’” York County Council member Allison Love, owner of a jewelry store, told WSJ. “But we’ve passed the point of diminishing returns.”
More than 80% of Lake Wylie’s population was born in another state. Forty percent of its households have school-age children, U.S. Census Bureau data shows. The median list price for a home in Lake Wylie is $344,000, according to realtor.com®.
The local school district is frantically trying to come up with money to pay for at least three new schools to accommodate the growth.
“It’s all happened so quickly,” Susan Bromfield, Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce president, told WSJ. “You want growth, but you want planned growth.”
During the moratorium on growth, council members say they want to determine what goes where in the remaining undeveloped areas in the town. They also want to develop a plan to connect neighborhoods and towns to one another.
But some economists say the moratorium is too late. There are more than 3,000 homes and apartments already approved for Lake Wylie that are in various stages of construction.
Rob Salvino, an economist at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C., told WSJ that moratoriums interfere with markets. “Growth is happening in the Sun Belt,” Salvino says. “It’s more a question of, ‘Are you going to admit that it’s coming and work to try to make it the best we can?’ ”
Source: “This Southern Town Was Growing So Fast, It Passed a Ban on Growth,” The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 3, 2020) [Log-in required.]