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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: South Carolina

Clear Springs
(Fort Mill)
Smart Design, Lots of Open Space
Myrtle Beach
Developers Dig and Drain Wetlands

Clear Springs
(Fort Mill)
Smart Design, Lots of Open Space

At the Clear Springs development in Fort Mill smart growth is a family affair. That's because this 20-year smart-growth project is being developed by Spring Industries. This family-owned business hopes to transform the town of Fort Mill and other nearby communities into model smart-growth developments.

Springing Back to Life: Thanks to the work of Spring Industries, Fort Mill, S.C., is building neighborhoods where residents can walk to stores and shops.

Between now and 2020, the plan, incorporating all the important elements of a livable community, will create six neighborhoods surrounding the historic city. Homes will be built close to the street to create a walkable neighborhood. A range of commercial spaces will be within walking or biking distance. And although no public transportation to Charlotte exists as of yet, the developers are hoping to improve the situation.

The crown jewel of the project is the 2,300-acre Anne Springs Close Greenway. Natural and historic features of this area will be left untouched, including 26 miles of hiking trails, a creek, three lakes, a 190-year-old cabin, a 1946 dairy barn, more than 150 varieties of wildflowers and a vast array of wildlife. Buffer zones protect the ecology of lakes and streams in the developed areas, and existing waterways have been left undisturbed.

Photo by Saussy Burbank. Model Homes at Baxter

Myrtle Beach
Developers Dig and Drain Wetlands

In a case of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, developers in Myrtle Beach are destroying the open space that makes the town such a popular tourist get-away and residential community. A pattern of poorly planned development along several miles of the Highway 17 Bypass in Horry County has destroyed wetlands and open space, increased traffic congestion and eliminated important wildlife habitat.

Much of the land upon which these developments are built was previously forest. Since laws regulating the draining of wetlands do not apply while cutting timber, "temporary" drainage ditches are dug in order to cut the trees, then the property is easily converted to a buildable site. Gas stations, restaurants and condominiums now stand where trees and wetlands once flourished.

In one case, 90 acres of wetlands disappeared within two years after drainage ditches were dug to cut timber. Now the developer plans to build an entertainment complex, stores and houses. A four-lane road and bridge over the Inter-Coastal Waterway is also planned for the site.

Adding traffic insult to environmental injury, the Highway 17 Bypass, which was built to ease the area's severe traffic congestion, has already become

overstressed. With little public transportation and few walkable streets, residents have to drive on already crowded roads to get around town.

Without some major changes in Myrtle Beach's land-use planning, this type of development will continue until all the open space is gone. Already, new drainage canals are cropping up throughout the region, which means that development can't be far behind. For developers in Horry County, the motto seems to be "When in doubt, dig and drain."

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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