The rapid, uncontrolled growth that Lexington County has experienced, especially in the past 10-12 years, has taken a toll in many areas of our county. Traffic and the commute times have increased dramatically. But as aggravating as traffic can be, it really is not the biggest concern among citizens. Most citizens are concerned about the strain additional rapid and uncontrolled development has placed on our already strained infrastructure. Infrastructure is defined as the basic facilities and installation that help a government or a community run including roads, schools, phone lines, sewage treatment plants, and power generation.
Rapid, Uncontrolled Residential Development Impacts on Infrastructure:
Simply put, more people will place more burden on an already strained infrastructure. Once an area is overdeveloped, you can not go back. We are called to be good stewards of our land and we each play a part in making sure it is preserved, protected, and developed responsibly. We appreciate the steps our county council and staff have taken by passing ordinance 20-18 in May of 2021, putting a six month building moratorium in place from May 2021 through December 2021 which allowed the passing of ordinances 21-13, 21-14, and 21-15. These initial steps will now help to ensure that Lexington County is developed responsibly because our schools, roads, public safety, and future depend on it.
Some Startling Info and Data :
We love our teachers, administrators, support staff, and bus drivers and there is no doubt they are working harder than they ever have these days. We appreciate all they do. We also are seeing a MASSIVE increase of new families moving into Lexington County. We welcome each one of them to the place we love and call home. More families means more students to educate. Many of our schools are at or nearing capacity and have had to add portable classrooms. There is a current teacher shortage county and state wide, bus driver shortage, and substitute teacher shortage. Schools can't be built fast enough in some areas of our county and we all know that they are not built overnight and cost tax payer dollars to build... meaning higher taxes. Lexington County schools have always been known for their excellence but if overdevelopment is allowed which creates more strain on an already strained situation, our school quality will surely decline and opportunities for extra curricular activities may be more of a challenge. Classrooms will be more overcrowded than ever before and school safety could even become an issue. We must protect our schools by making sure Lexington County is developed responsibly.
Taking a glance at Lexington School District One Quick Facts on the District webpage is a good example of how rapid, uncontrolled residential development has taken a toll on our school districts. It shows that between August 31, 2021 and November 1, 2021, which is just a 9 week period, that Lexington School District One increased by 1,068 students district wide. To give you a better feel of this during that nine week period, Lake Murray Elementary School increased by 117 students, Pleasant Hill Middle increased by 168 students, Lexington High School increased by 190 students, while other schools throughout the district also had increases. Lexington High Schools freshman class in 2021 had over 700 students. Again, our schools simply cannot keep up with this growth rate and it is critical that our county and district leaders recognize this and ensure we develop in a more responsible manner.
We love and appreciate our dedicated Firefighters, EMS, and Law enforcement. In the Fall of 2021, there were 38 firefighter openings county wide along with shortages in law enforcement and EMS with shortages still being a problem for our county. This results in much slower response times when you and your loved ones need these emergency, life saving services. It is crucial that Lexington County develop responsibly or our firefighters, EMS, and Law Enforcement will not be able to keep up and be there quickly when your family may need them the most. Rapid, uncontrolled development equals more people to serve, more cars on the road and parked on the street in high density neighborhoods possibly preventing them from getting to your family quickly in an emergency.
Fire stations are not built overnight and ladder trucks, firetrucks, police cars, and other public safety vehicles and equipment are not always readily available or purchased quickly for the rapid increase of citizens to serve. Fire hydrants may not have adequate water pressure if there is a strain placed on public water lines. There are much slower response times when you and your family need emergency, potential life saving services. Employee morale can decline and stress can increase if there is overburden of citizens to serve. These among other issues that overdevelopment could cause for our public safety are of major concern. Below are charts showing Lexington County data. One of the most overwhelming and alarming numbers reflected in this data is that Lexington County fire service calls have increased OVER 130 % in the past TEN years. This no doubt is due to the rapid, uncontrolled residential development that has taken place and been allowed. Simply, they can't keep up so it is time that we make sure that Lexington County is developed responsibly moving forward.