What’s next for Van Wyck?

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Tiny town has grown to 9.1 square miles

By Mark Manicone

With the rejection of the proposed Indian Land incorporation, the pressure on the town of Van Wyck to aggressively annex has finally subsided.
But local officials say there is no plan for the town to stop its continuing annexation push.
“It definitely has relieved the pressure,” said Town Administrator Linda Vaughan. “But we still have people interested in annexing, and as long as we have anyone to petition to annex, we’ll do that.”
Councilman Xavier Kee agrees.
“The pressure is off now, but our plan is to continue annexing,” he said.
Van Wyck has grown exponentially since residents of the original 1.4-square-mile area voted 67-7 on Aug. 15 to incorporate, according to Lancaster County elections officials.
The town, which originally had 429 people, has grown to a population of 600 and ballooned to 9.1 square miles since then through aggressive annexation.
The town included about 219 parcels of land as of March 26, Vaughan said.
The council still has some annexations in the pipeline. At the April 2 town meeting, council tabled an annexation ordinance until the next meeting because of a few lingering questions.
In the aftermath of the failed IL incorporation, the VW Town Council has also stopped meeting nearly every week, with their next meeting May 7.
“We’re still meeting, but we’re taking some time off,” Kee said. “We’re going ahead and moving forward.”
The town has shifted its focus from annexation to essentially becoming an incorporated town, said Councilman Bob Doster.
“We’re starting to get down to the nuts and bolts of making a town,” he said. “In the next meeting, we’ll be talking about zoning, and we’re making progress on the census stuff so we can start applying for money when it comes to the budget.”
Incorporation was the first step in a plan that called for Van Wyck to grow through voluntary annexation of adjacent properties.
Turnout for the VW incorporation vote was 26 percent of a possible 284 votes.
That vote was intended to fend off the proposed Indian Land incorporation, which would have gobble up almost the entire Panhandle, if it had passed.
But after two years of contentious debate, voters in Indian Land soundly rejected a ballot referendum March 27 that would have incorporated most of the Panhandle.
The vote was 1,853 in favor and 9,086 against incorporation, which would have created a town of about 50 square miles with 25,000-plus residents.
The “No” vote was 83 percent and the “Yes” vote was 17 percent, a more than 4-to-1 margin against incorporation.
Turnout was heavy for a special election in the 11 Indian Land voting precincts, with 42.5 percent of registered voters casting ballots.
Follow reporter Mark Manicone on Twitter @mark_manicone or contact him at (803) 283-1152.