July 19, 2021

Use Your Voice to Protect Greenville's Green Spaces

Dear Friend,

You can help shape the future of Greenville County.

Greenville County Council will hold a second reading and public hearing for a proposed ordinance that will replace Article 3.1. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 20th at 6 pm in Council Chambers at County Square (301 University Ridge, Greenville, SC).

Article 3.1 is a local land use regulation requiring developers to meet basic criteria to ensure their residential subdivision projects will not detrimentally impact our roads and infrastructure, destroy environmental features such as endangered species, or drastically change the area’s existing character.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here. In order to address Council regarding Article 3.1, you must register on site between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. I strongly suggest arriving by 5 p.m. if possible. If you're unable to attend in person, the meeting will be live streamed.


BACKGROUND

The Council created an Ad Hoc committee to study and find a solution to the County’s residential sprawl issues. County staff developed and recommended a proposal that aimed to balance the interests of current and future residents, developers, property owners and environmental and quality of life advocates. Despite staff’s sound recommendations for this replacement ordinance, the Committee disregarded and significantly weakened several essential provisions designed to ensure meaningful open space protection and preservation of critical natural resources. The most problematic change allows areas such as high-tension power lines, gas and oil lines, swimming pools and even subdivision street rights of way to be counted as “open space.”

Unfortunately, during a contentious meeting the Committee of the Whole, by a vote of 7-5, forwarded this seriously weakened proposal to the full Council for second reading and a public hearing.

There has been considerable outcry from citizens calling on Council to replace Article 3.1 with an ordinance that provides effective natural resource protections and sound land use planning instead of simply repealing it. This current proposal essentially leaves the status quo in place under the guise of a solution.


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:

Areas such as high-tension power lines, gas and oil lines, swimming pools and street rights of way should NOT be counted as “open space.” Instead, significant natural areas such as wetlands, floodplains, steep slopes, important habitats for endangered and threatened species, productive farms and forest lands and historic sites should be prioritized for meeting open space requirements.

The open space target should be increased to at least 40%. 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.

You can find county council member contact information here. Not sure who represents you? Enter your address here to find out.

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.


Sincerely,

Michael Martinez

Upstate Staff Attorney

South Carolina Environmental Law Project

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