Blythewood Feeling Growth Spurt

BLYTHEWOOD (Aug. 11, 2016) – The latest housing boom is on. In Blythewood, at least, where Town officials say building permits for single-family homes are at a five year high.

“The whole calendar year is higher than in prior years,” Town Administrator Gary Parker told The Voice last week. “The economy has improved. We’ve finally gotten over the real estate crash. And this particular town and this particular area is attractive to people. A lot of people are interested in relocating to a community that is right outside a major metropolitan area.”

And, Parker added, the school system doesn’t hurt either.

So, how fast is Blythewood growing?

“Per capita, Blythewood is growing at a faster rate than Fort Mill,” Kirk Wilson, Director of Permits and Licenses for the Town of Blythewood, said. “We’re one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing municipalities in the state.”

The numbers tell the tale.

Just six years ago, in 2010, Blythewood issued a modest 19 building permits for single-family homes. Since then, the growth has been steady and largely consistent. In 2011, the Town issued 34 building permits. A year later, that figure nearly doubled, to 58 permits. In 2013, permits more than doubled, with Blythewood stamping 123 for approval. There was a small dip in 2014, as the number of building permits decreased to 120. But last year, they were up again, to 175.

Through July of this year, the Town has already issued 93 permits.

“It’s not going to be slowing down anytime soon,” Wilson said.

The growth is mainly west of I-77, Parker said, with the expansion of Cobblestone Park and the Oakhurst subdivisions. Ashley Oaks, phases 8 and 9, and Abney Hills, phase 2, are also likely to add to the number of building permits before the year’s end, Wilson said.

But while growth is a promising sign for the economy, it can also put a strain on services, particularly in a small town like Blythewood.

“We’re experiencing that,” Parker said. “We’ve taken a couple of steps to meet the demands. We’ve added additional personnel to our Town staff, and that will only increase if it continues to grow.”

The first area to feel the strain of increased growth, Parker said, is in parks and recreation.

“When you have more children, there’s a greater need for parks and recreational programs,” Parker said. “We have to think about it (growth) coming here and think about developing services, particularly in parks and recreation.”

The local streets and roads, Parker said, will also feel the first symptoms of rapid growth.

While proposed streetscaping projects will certainly make Blythewood’s roadways more attractive, to keep the traffic moving more practical and ambitious projects are going to have to get under way. The planned widening of Blythewood Road, Parker said, as well as the installation of traffic circles – particularly near the entrance to the Food Lion shopping center – should help alleviate some of the traffic headaches that often come hand-in-hand with rapid residential growth.

“The Master and Comprehensive plans address some aspects of growth, foremost of which is traffic,” Parker said. “We’re working with the County and working with the Penny Tax folks to address that.”