Saga over busy private road in Lancaster County takes a turn

INDIAN LAND, S.C. — On Monday afternoon, Lancaster County took a major step to end a long-running headache for thousands of commuters who use Regent Parkway as a shortcut and the people who live there.

For more than a decade, the stretch in Indian Land has been a private road even though hundreds of homes were built there.

More than 8,000 vehicles a day cut through the road as a backway to reach Interstate 77 in York County or to the Ballantyne area in Charlotte.

Developer Earl Coulston bought the road in 2003 before building new neighborhoods around the site of the former Heritage USA Christian theme park.

The area has exploded with growth, but Regent Parkway on the Lancaster County side remained private.

In 2018, Channel 9 reported that Coulston added no trespassing signs on Regent Parkway and threatened to shut it down to traffic if someone didn’t take the road off his hands.

[Developer threatens to close private road that thousands travel]

Coulston told Channel 9 at that time he was through with the road, would not spend any more money on maintenance and wanted Lancaster County to take it over.

At the time, Lancaster County officials said the road did not meet standards and could not be accepted into the county system because of the costly repairs and upgrades it would need. So the road continued to deteriorate.

John Caldwell experienced that and blew two tires on his truck.

“On my way to work one evening and it was raining, hit the pothole and busted both of my tires,” he said.

Caldwell first tried to get the county and state to pay for the damages then learned about the road being private.

“I can’t understand how it can be a private road if you have a subdivision on it,” he said.

Lancaster County Councilman Brian Carnes said that happened because when construction of all the homes and neighborhoods changed developers a few times, the road was never given to the county. Years went by, and it became too expenseive to maintain.

Carnes said the road has been so bad that residents tried fixing it themselves.

“The folks actually in the developments here have gone to Lowe’s and bought patch and patched the potholes themselves,” he said.

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On Monday afternoon, Lancaster County bought the road for only $16,000. They estimate it will cost $450,000 to repair it and bring it up to standards.

However, that money won’t be available until spring 2022, because it’ll have to be collected through a county wide one-cent sales tax.

Channel 9 could not reach developer Coulston, who owned that road up until Monday afternoon. Lancaster County is using eminent domain to buy it from him, but he has the right to contest the sale price, which could send the issue to court.

County administrator Steve Willis said he expected public works crews to be on Regent Parkway filling potholes and making repairs within the day.

The overall upgrade to the road likely won’t start until late next year.