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Van Wyck incorporation vote Tuesday

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By Reece Murphy

Van Wyck residents will head to the polls next week to decide whether to remain an independent unincorporated community or join together to become the town of Van Wyck.
Next week’s special election is Tuesday, Aug. 15, at the Van Wyck Community Center, 5063 Old Hickory Road. The poll is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voting is open only to the 271 registered voters who live in the community’s original incorporation area.
The proposed incorporation area boundary runs east from the railroad tracks at S.C. 5 to the intersection of Van Wyck Road, then southeast along Van Wyck Road to the intersection of Steele Hill Road. The boundary line continues northeast on Steele Hill Road to the intersection of Old Hickory Road, southeast on Old Hickory Road to S.C. 5 then northwest on S.C. 5 to the railroad tracks.
Tuesday’s incorporation vote is the culmination of an effort that began a little over a year and a half ago as a means of warding off an ongoing incorporation effort by Van Wyck’s much larger, and more urban, neighbor Indian Land, which threatened to engulf the small rural community.
“I feel like we’re about three-quarters of a way through a marathon right now,” Van Wyck incorporation commissioner Sean Corcoran said. “We’re getting really close to the end and have a few hurdles to get over still, but we feel like we can see the finish line.”
Van Wyck’s plan calls for incorporation of the central original incorporation area of about 430 or so residents, followed by expansion through voluntary annexation of surrounding, contiguous properties.
Lancaster County Elections Director Mary Ann Hudson said the ballot will include six questions:
• A vote on incorporation itself
• The name of the municipality
• Its form of government
• The method of electing officials
• Whether those elections will be partisan or nonpartisan
• Mayor and council member terms in office
Hudson said there are so many choices for question No. 4 regarding the method of election that voters will be given a handout with choices and an explanation for each, since including it all on the ballot would make it difficult to read. The handout test is included in the boix at left.
She said voters should read the handout for information on the question since poll workers are not allowed to explain the question to voters.
“You just want people to know what they’re voting for,” Hudson said.
Hudson reminded voters to carry their identification to the polls and noted that absentee voting will be open until 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14, though she anticipated most voters in the special election would simply go to the poll.
As of Aug. 7, only one Van Wyck resident had cast an absentee ballot, Hudson said.
Corcoran said he and fellow incorporation commissioners Thelma Witherspoon and Bob Doster planned to have a community meeting Tuesday, Aug. 8, to go over questions on the ballot and explain their significance in detail. Corcoran said the commission felt that some questions, such as those regarding the method of election and form of government, are nuanced and should to be clarified. He said the commission also plans to go over what would happen next should the incorporation pass and any other questions voters might have.
He said from what he’s seen, there’s not much, if any, opposition to the incorporation plan.
“We haven’t heard of anyone opposing it,” Corcoran said of the question. “We’ll have a meeting tomorrow night, and we may well hear from people who are not interested, but we have not heard back from anyone yet.
“We just need to make sure that everyone who is interested comes out to vote,” he said.
Question 4 Explanation (from handout)

Due to voting machine character limitations for each selection, the options for question 4 are abbreviated. A complete description for each option under question 4 is set forth below:
4. Method of Election. How should the council members be elected? Options appearing on ballot shown in bold print.
Elected from municipality at-large. Members of the council to be elected from municipality at-large.
Elected from wards within the municipality by the ward’s electors. One council member to be elected from each ward within the municipality by the qualified electors of the ward. Candidates seeking office from a particular ward shall be residents of the ward during their entire terms of office.
Some elected from wards by ward’s electors, others elected at-large. Some council members to be elected from wards within the municipality by the qualified electors of the ward and the remainder of members to be elected at-large.
Members are residents of a ward but elected at-large. Council members required to be residents of a ward but to be elected at-large.
Members are a mix of ward and at-large residency but elected at-large. Some council members may be required to be residents of particular wards and others may be residents of the municipality without regard to a particular ward and all members shall be elected from the municipality at-large.

Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151 or follow on Twitter @ReeceTLN.