Polk approves rezoning of newest TIEC properties

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MILL SPRING – The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved a zoning ordinance amendment this week to extend the county’s “Equestrian Village” zoning district to three properties owned by Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).

The tracts of land that were rezoned to equestrian village were formerly zoned as multiple use or in unzoned areas of the county. The parcels rezoned include P105-13, P105-20 and P105-66.

Commissioners held a public hearing on the rezoning prior to the board’s unanimous approval.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Grey Lancaster said he did not like the equestrian village zoning because everyone else in the county can only build a 40-foot structure while TIEC can build a structure 60 feet high. Lancaster also argued that the lots being rezoned are not contiguous to TIEC although they are described as contiguous. Lancaster said he knows the county says the rezoning meets the Vision 20/20 plan, but he’s not real sure he signed up for more trash, more roads and more taxes. He said Polk County taxpayers’ taxes are being used to redo U.S. 74 and I-26 and everything TIEC does at the park is to make a profit, not for the county’s benefit.

“My starry nights have been replaced with street lights,” Lancaster said. “Go down the road and look at all the for sale signs. That’s not why I moved here. If I’d wanted that I would have moved to Greenville.”

Clint Blanton said he supports the rezoning and also supports TIEC COO Sharon Decker, who he said is doing a fantastic job there.

Michael Veatch said as he understands the rezoning, it will give residents more protections and he doesn’t really see it as a big issue. Veatch also said he hasn’t had any problems with TIEC as his neighbors. Veatch said TIEC has done what they said they would about the lights and people ask him sometimes about the noise, but he has to say he doesn’t know because he’s always at TIEC. Veatch said there will be more traffic, but it’s not a private road and added that the neighborhood has two fewer meth labs because they got priced out of the neighborhood.

Decker said she thinks the rezoning is important for the consistency.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson asked Decker to clarify a few points, including an assumption among a lot of the public who feel that commissioners have been giving TIEC tax breaks of some sort or funding with local Polk County taxpayer dollars.

“We’ve gotten no tax breaks or rebates,” Decker said, adding that TIEC is faced with the same property revaluation increases as other residents in the area.

Gasperson said the county did work with TIEC partners to establish the equestrian zoning and a development agreement for 20 years.

“There’s been many situations or discussions that have been brought up and we’ve frankly pushed back at times,” Gasperson said.

Decker responded, “and you’ve kept me on my toes.”

Gasperson said the reality is that TIEC is here, the equestrian partners own the property and he, as one commissioner, hopes they succeed.

“I want to work hand in hand to make it work,” Gasperson said.

Decker said the county has clear rules of how the development has to take place. She also said that TIEC is in the process of hiring seasonal employees so now there are over 300 employees. Job creation in Polk County was one of TIEC’s main goals, she said, and over half of the employees are now year round, with TIEC’s goal of becoming a year-round facility.

During commissioner comments, Gasperson said he pushed for the change in zoning.

“The reality is in an unzoned part of the county, short of the subdivision ordinance, they could do what they wanted to,” Gasperson said.

Gasperson said he’s not advocating zoning but these properties were an exception.

Commissioner vice chair Jake Johnson said he thinks it’s the right move for the people who live near there.

Michael DeVere said on the rezoning that he’s in favor of it because he believes zoning protects both sides of the property lines. He did suggest in the zoning for the county to add buffers between TIEC and the other properties to block the line of sight.

“For all we know there could be a water park in the future where there are slides 50 feet high,” DeVere said.