How we would like to see the proposed Article 3.1 replacement ordinance strengthened

July 12th, 2021

For more than a year, Upstate Forever has worked alongside partners and citizens fighting to protect Greenville County's remaining forests, farmlands, and rural areas. The battle centers on Article 3.1 — a controversial local land development regulation setting out basic criteria for subdivision approval in unincorporated parts of the county.

Though imperfect, Article 3.1 is the only thing standing in the way of rampant suburban sprawl in unzoned areas of the county. Our position is that 3.1 should be improved and replaced....not simply repealed. Further, it should be replaced with regulations that align with recommendations in the county's comprehensive plan.

Greenville County is growing, and new homes at varying price points are needed for future residents. However, regulations that encourage sprawling, leapfrog development into the most rural areas of the county are not in the best interests of anyone – especially taxpayers. Revenues generated by such development come nowhere near the costs to serve it, and such development uses land incredibly inefficiently — consuming valuable farmlands and forests unnecessarily.

Here is how we would like to see the 3.1 replacement ordinance proposal strengthened:

  • Areas such as high tension power lines, gas and oil lines, swimming pools, and fenced stormwater detention and retention ponds should NOT be counted as "open space." Such areas in no way meet the spirit of what “open space” is meant to achieve in this ordinance — preservation of natural features, passive recreation, and landscaping. Rather, important natural areas such as wetlands, floodplains, steep slopes, prime soils, habitat for endangered and threatened species, and productive farms and forestlands — as well as 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 could count towards open space requirements).
  • Protections for endangered & threatened species — along with their habitats — should be retained in the ordinance. State law places the primary responsibility for land regulation in the hands of local governments — with the expectation that local regulations will support implementation of state and federal law, including the Endangered Species Act. 

The Background

The fight regarding Article 3.1 has been going on for more than a year and has been filled with confusion, frustration, and even litigation. 

This past June, county staff developed a proposed 3.1 replacement that aimed to balance the sometimes competing interests of current and future residents, developers, property owners, and environmental and quality of life advocates. It was clear that staff had taken great time, care, and consideration in crafting the proposal. 

In an incredibly disappointing move, however, an Ad Hoc Committee of Council ignored many of staff's recommendations — amending and greatly weakening their proposal — especially as related to meaningful open space protection.

What’s Next?

On July 20th, Greenville County Council will hold a public hearing and vote at 2nd reading on the Ad Hoc Committee's inadequate 3.1 replacement ordinance proposal. Mark your calendar for July 20th at 6 pm and plan to attend this very important Council meeting at County Square (301 University Ridge, Greenville, SC). 


You can find county council member contact information here and below. Don't know who represents you? Enter your address here to find out.

Joe Dill (District 17)

Michael Barnes (District 18)

Willis Meadows (District 19)

Steve Shaw (District 20)

Chris Harrison (District 21)

Stan Tzouvelekas (District 22)

Xanthene Norris (District 23)

Liz Seman (District 24)

Ennis Fant (District 25)

Lynn Ballard (District 26)

Butch Kirven (District 27)

Dan Tripp (District 28)

If you'd like to receive updates and action alerts such as this one directly in your inbox, join our Greenville County Land Planning & Policy Issues email list at

Error Message