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February 17th, 2022
We have heard from countless landowners over the years frustrated after being told to "zone themselves" when the process to do so is tedious, time-consuming, and difficult – making it nearly impossible for most property owners to carry out.
Greenville County Council had the opportunity at Tuesday night’s meeting to change that when a streamlined zoning process developed by the county’s professional planning staff came before them for consideration. In a disappointing split vote, however, the measure failed, leaving in place a process that is convoluted and arduous.
Just preceding the 6-6 vote, council members supportive of a streamlined process vehemently urged their colleagues to support staff’s proposal, to remember they were elected to serve the people of Greenville County, and to cast their votes with citizens’ interests in mind.
Unfortunately, those pleas fell on deaf ears, and Councilmembers Meadows, Barnes, Tzouvelekas, Shaw, Fant, and Norris — a voting “bloc” that has emerged during the past year — voted down staff’s proposal. Their votes were a slap in the face to all landowners, but especially those living in the northern and southernmost ends of the county, most of which lack zoning.
When asked for a reason to back up their “no” vote, none of the members above would provide one, leaving citizens to question whether the vote was more about politics or the issue at hand.
If you are as exasperated with Tuesday night’s vote as we are, contact the councilmembers who voted NO to staff’s proposal and let them know. Tell them that their votes did nothing but restrict the rights of unzoned property owners to better manage growth in their communities.
You can also email them individually at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or email@example.com.
You can also email them individually at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or email@example.com.
Late last year, in response to demand from property owners in unzoned areas, county staff drafted and submitted to Council for consideration a simplified and streamlined method to petition for zoning.
Staff proposed decreasing the amount of contiguous acreage required to petition for zoning from 640 acres to 320, while increasing to 100% the percentage of property owners within that area who must support the zoning petition.
Staff’s proposal aimed to shorten the zoning process from as much as two years to as little as three months and to avoid landowners being zoned against their wishes.
Staff’s proposal went before the Planning & Development Committee earlier this year. The committee — in a split 3-2 vote — amended staff's proposal by increasing the required contiguous acreage from 320 to 640 (but leaving in place the requirement for 100% property owner support within that area). The committee’s amendment rendered the process exceedingly more difficult than staff’s proposal, when the intent was in fact to streamline the process. No meaningful reason was given for the change.
When the Planning & Development Committee’s amended proposal came before full Council at Tuesday night’s meeting, it was voted down 6-6. Councilmembers voting “no” explained that they instead supported the proposal crafted by the professional planning staff of Greenville County, which better fulfilled the intent to make the zoning petition process easier for landowners, not harder.
When staff’s proposal was then voted on, it failed in a 6-6 vote with Councilmembers Meadows, Barnes, Tzouvelekas, Shaw, Fant, and Norris voting “no” without a reason as to why, to the utter dismay of other members.
To read more about how the meeting played out, see Nate Cary’s article in the Post & Courier here.
Photos via Post & Courier Greenville and Greenville Journal