Upstate Forever has filed an appeal and a request for pre-litigation mediation in Pickens County circuit court in response to a decision by the Pickens County Planning Commission to approve a development at the base of the Glassy Mountain Heritage Trust Preserve in Pickens County.
Upstate Forever's goal is to have this controversial proposal remanded back to the Planning Commission for closer scrutiny and more public input.
The proposed development has been the subject of local outcry since it was first made public. Glassy Mountain, a rare geologic formation known as a “monadnock,” is a Pickens County icon. The SC Department of Natural Resources preserves 65 acres of the monadnock, the Glassy Mountain Heritage Preserve, as this landform is unusual in South Carolina and harbors several rare plant species. Glassy Mountain is surrounded by several large, privately-owned and rural or agrarian tracts that contribute significantly to the protection of the sensitive ecosystem that surrounds it and contribute to the viewshed.
One of the surrounding tracts is slated for the development in question — a subdivision of 254 homes on 183 acres to be called the Summit at Glassy. The Pickens County Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposed development on Monday, June 12th. The Planning Commission stated that they had no grounds to oppose the development based on their current ordinances. Upstate Forever is appealing this decision.
Upstate Forever filed their appeal in conjunction with adjacent landowners Shelly Smith and Doug Hinkle. Upstate Forever, Smith and Hinkle are represented by J.J. Andrighetti of the Greenville law firm Kehl Culbertson Andrighetti LLC. The appeal is based on the Commission’s failure to consider several issues, including inadequate access roads.
“The road issue alone should have killed this project,” said Andrea Cooper, Upstate Forever’s Executive Director. “In order to meet the standards set out in the county’s own ordinance, either the developer or the taxpayers will have to spend a great deal of money to widen the two proposed access roads, North Glassy Mountain Road and Glassy Mountain Church Road. If the taxpayers foot that bill, they will be subsidizing the profits of a private developer with no return on their investment. Plus, widening either of those roads will completely change the character and development pattern in that community and based on the massive public outcry against this development, this is the last thing the community wants.”
In addition to the issue of inadequate access roads, this area is not identified as a target for growth in the County’s Comprehensive Plan, which articulates the citizens’ vision for their community. Rather, the area is designated to remain a combination of farmland and moderate to large lot residential. A gated community with 254 homesites is not consistent with what the citizens want.
“Our goal is to have the Planning Commission re-evaluate the project in light of this additional information. Unfortunately, a legal challenge is the only mechanism available to move us toward that goal. We applaud the county staff and their efforts to date and we look forward to resolving this issue in a manner satisfactory to all parties while protecting the rural character of the area and the treasure that is the Glassy Mountain Heritage Trust Preserve,” said Cooper.
For more information, contact Shelley Robbins at firstname.lastname@example.org.