The final reading for county staff’s proposed replacement ordinance to Article 3.1 is scheduled for Tuesday August 17, 2021, at 6 p.m. As expected, council members proposed amendments that would benefit only development interests and directly reject the preservation of rural areas and natural resources the community wants and the Comprehensive Plan recommended.
Amendment #4—and by extension, Amendment #1 through its incorporation of all three amendments—is a particularly egregious alteration of staff’s recommendations. Amendment #4 drastically changes the open space requirements for conservation subdivisions. Instead of a minimum 30% open space, the amendment establishes a sliding scale dependent on the average lot size in the development, and the highest open space percentage for the highest density developments is still below the staff’s requirement. The 30% open space requirement staff proposed is already a compromise of typical conservation subdivisions ordinances.
If Council adopts this amendment, the result will be unrestrained and fiscally irresponsible residential sprawl into unzoned, undeveloped areas of the County. The community’s voice and presence at the public hearing was critical to the reinstatement of staff’s proposed ordinance and the prevention of a grossly inadequate ordinance. Your presence tomorrow night is just as significant.
Please continue urging the entire County Council to adopt the recommended replacement ordinance without any harmful amendments at third reading.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Council members need to continue hearing from you on this issue! A call to your council representative (even if you must leave a message) may prove most effective. However, an email is also helpful. Tell Council that:
No changes should be made to the definition of undevelopable open space: Significant natural areas such as wetlands, floodplains, steep slopes, important habitats for endangered and threatened species, productive farms and forest lands and historic sites must be protected open space.
The open space target should be increased to at least 40%, not significantly reduced. With a minimum lot size requirement of only 6,000 square feet, allowing 60% of a parcel to be developed provides ample space to build new homes (not to mention that all parcels have some portion of undevelopable land that will count towards open space requirements).
Protections for endangered and threatened species—including their habitats—must be included in local ordinances. State law places the primary responsibility for land use regulation with local governments—and those local regulations must comply with state and federal law, including the Endangered Species Act.
Thank you for speaking out for protection of Greenville County's natural resources and for standing with SCELP. I am proud to fight for environmental protection with you.
Upstate Staff Attorney
South Carolina Environmental Law Project