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We need policies in Greenville County that enact the community's vision

February 4th, 2021

What is a UDO? And why does it matter for Greenville County?

A Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is a planning tool to guide future growth and land use.

Greenville County is drafting a new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to replace current zoning and land development regulations. It will decide how and where we grow and how that growth impacts current and future residents, as well as the natural environment. 

What does the UDO mean for Greenville County?

The UDO will determine how and where growth occurs to accommodate the 220,000+ new residents projected for the county by 2040. It will impact the degree to which land use policy supports progress on other community priorities such as housing choice and affordability, mobility options, access to clean water and safe green spaces, and protection of floodplains, tree canopy, prime agricultural lands, and other sensitive natural resources. 

One of the major goals of the UDO is to implement the shared community vision laid out in Plan Greenville County, the widely-supported comprehensive plan for guiding future growth that was unanimously adopted by Council in 2020. 

How can we ensure the Greenville County UDO will reflect the shared community vision laid out in the comprehensive plan?

When the UDO process launched, we wrote a blog about how (unfortunately) uncommon it is for local Upstate governments to take the logical step of updating policies guiding growth following adoption of comp plans. We applaud Greenville County for bucking that trend!

The real question now is to what degree the UDO will reflect the shared community vision laid out in the comp plan. That answer will be determined in the months ahead as the new UDO is drafted.

Effective policy-making only happens when many community voices — not just those of government officials, consultants, developers, and special interest groups — work together to identify durable, equitable solutions.

If you want to see the community’s vision for Greenville County enacted through meaningful land policy, please take five minutes to contact your council member and tell them:

  • Hundreds of residents participated in the county's comp plan process, and their voices should be respected. We need a UDO that lines up with the vision laid out in the plan.
  • The county's existing policies for guiding growth are antiquated. The UDO provides an avenue to overhaul and modernize those policies so that they address the community needs of today.
  • Greenville County is nearly 800 square miles in size. Policy solutions are not a "one-size-fits-all". In urban and suburban areas, where access to services is greatest, the UDO should remove barriers limiting housing choice and affordability. In rural areas, where services are limited, the UDO should slow sprawl and protect productive farmlands.
  • Our sprawling growth pattern is inefficient, exorbitantly expensive to serve, and fiscally unsustainable. The UDO can reverse that course by directing growth to the central portion of the county where infrastructure and services can better support it.
  • Future growth need not come at the expense of sensitive natural areas. The UDO must protect tree canopy and riparian buffers — critical to water quality — and unique natural resources such as bunched arrowhead — found only in Greenville County, SC and Hendersonville, NC.

You can find county council member contact information here. Don't know who represents you? Enter your address here to find out. If you want to sign up to receive email updates and action alerts about land planning and policy issues for Greenville County, click here.

Photo by Morgan Yelton


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