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August 24th, 2020
The City of Greenville's comprehensive planning process — known as GVL2040 — is moving forward this fall. This "comp plan" should reflect the core values of the broad community and set a course for accomplishing the overarching priorities that emerged throughout the planning process, creating opportunities for affordable housing, protecting green space and the environment, and improving transportation and congestion. The plan should identify strategies for achieving preferred outcomes; provide a framework for decision-making that aligns values and priorities with the community’s vision for the future; and outline a clear plan of action for timely implementation.
Upstate Forever has identified the following advocacy priorities for adoption and implementation of GVL2040:
1) Revamp the Land Management Ordinance (LMO) immediately following plan adoption and ensure future funding allocations align with plan priorities.
The community’s vision will come to fruition only when zoning and land development regulations are updated to reflect the comprehensive plan’s future land use map. Additionally, future decisions regarding the city’s capital improvement plan, economic development & housing policy, small area plans, and local funding allocations for transit, parks, recreation facilities, etc., should be clearly aligned with the plan’s stated priorities.
2) Identify appropriate locations for transit-oriented development and then invest and make the necessary policy changes to ensure those areas develop as places where walking, biking, and transit are as feasible a means of travel as personal vehicles.
GVL2040 recommends directing significant growth to nodes and corridors. Transit-oriented or transit-supportive development – at a scale appropriate for the City of Greenville – is critical for a robust public transit system to function efficiently. Mixed-use, compact development generates property tax revenue and uses land much more efficiently than low-density, automobile-oriented development. Within identified nodes, regulations should encourage mixed-use, mixed-income development and a diversity of residential units with incentives for affordable housing. Such areas should be designed so that walking, biking, and transit are as feasible a means of travel as personal vehicles.
3) Protect existing -- and encourage additional -- Missing Middle Housing options throughout the city.
Missing Middle Housing – house-scale buildings with multiple units in walkable neighborhoods – includes building types such as accessory dwelling units, duplexes, fourplexes, bungalow courts, and mansion apartments. Allowing and encouraging a range of home types within new and established single-family neighborhoods in walkable locations will expand housing choices, build pockets of “gentle density” that fit within the character of existing communities, and support expanded mobility options.
4) Implement a citywide network of natural areas and open space that protects and expands tree canopy, increases access to urban parks & green spaces, and facilitates natural stormwater management, with careful planning and authentic community engagement to avoid environmental gentrification and displacement in traditionally underserved communities.
As the city grows, it will be important to ensure that its network of natural areas and open space grows along with it. Tree canopy must be protected and increased through planning, programs, education, equitable tree plantings, and policies. Tree installation and tree care requirements should follow current best practices for planting and maintaining a healthy urban and community forest. Universal design and authentic community engagement should drive development and redevelopment of parks and green spaces to achieve full accessibility, ensure that individual parks reflect community needs & desires, and avoid environmental gentrification and displacement. Green infrastructure -- a network of natural areas and open spaces -- should be used when possible to naturally manage stormwater and improve water quality.
5) Provide a highly connected transportation system.
A well-functioning urban transportation system should provide safe and convenient choices for all travelers. It should connect neighborhoods to each other and residents to local destinations such as schools, parks, and shopping areas. Such a system expands mobility options and results in more efficient municipal service delivery, better air quality, and reduced travel times for all, including emergency responders.
Thumbnail image by Jack Robert Photography. Aerial photo of downtown Greenville by Jacob Sharp via GVL Today.