April 6, 2021

Bill Holt, The Greenville News

Commentary: How to fix Greenville's flawed but only check on sprawling development

According to the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan for Greenville County, the population of our county grew from 320,000 to 514,000 during the period from 1990 to 2018, and that number is expected to reach 736,000 by 2040. Unsurprisingly, all this growth is driving development sprawl into the rural — and predominantly unzoned —areas of the county, with disturbing economic, social and environmental impacts.

Thankfully, our new Comprehensive Plan recognizes that our “current land development practices pose a threat to the abundance and quality of Greenville County’s natural resources and environment” and outlines a roadmap for preserving the character of our rural areas. The bad news, though, is that we have thus far seen inconsistent implementation of this vision so painstakingly crafted by county staff, County Council, the Planning Commission and the public.

Inconsistent implementation of the new Comprehensive Plan primarily has been the result of inconsistent application of Article 3.1. That provision, passed by County Council in 2018, has served as the only means to protect our unzoned rural lands from completely unrestrained development. The Planning Commission’s application of Article 3.1 has varied widely, with the regulation mostly disregarded over the last year.

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