August 19, 2021

Michael Martinez, Upstate Staff Attorney

The Fight to Protect Greenville from Unrestrained Development Continues

On Tuesday night, in the culmination of a clearly secretive effort to amend a widely supported land use regulation, seven members of County Council—who represent a minuscule fraction of the unzoned land in the County impacted by the regulation—rejected any public debate by the remainder of Council and rushed the adoption of an amended ordinance that predominantly benefits development interests. It is perhaps an unsurprising turn of events given the outsized financial influence that development interests have on Council members through significant campaign contributions.

Nonetheless, it represents a disturbing disregard by elected representatives of substantial input from their constituents and demonstrates the importance of electing officials who are committed to representing residents instead of well-funded special interests. Magnifying the lack of debate by members of Council, these seven members of council circumvented input from the community on the amended ordinance by delaying consideration of an amendment that drastically changed the proposal until after the public hearing, a clear violation of the spirit of Council’s own rules. SCELP will evaluate potential legal action against the County for its use of a procedure that prevented critical input from members of the public on a matter that affects all of Greenville.

Council’s adoption of the proposed amendments will result in continued explosion of growth in the County, in particular the unzoned, undeveloped areas and the rapid loss of essential wildlife habitat and land necessary for local farmers. The amendments adopted are a particularly egregious alteration of staff’s recommendations. The worst of the amendments drastically changed 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 recommendation. The 30% open space requirement staff proposed was already a compromise of typical conservation subdivisions ordinances.

SCELP is incredibly grateful for the steadfast commitment of so many Greenville County residents who ensured their voices were heard by attending dozens of meetings, writing hundreds of emails, and making countless phone calls to their elected representatives. It is to your credit that Council even adopted a replacement to Article 3.1. SCELP will need your continued support as we work toward strengthening the open space protections and protecting our natural resources.

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.

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