Spartan

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Spartan last won the day on May 27 2015

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About Spartan

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  1. Spartan

    Greenways in Sparkle City

    This is great, but I haven't been able to find anything that describes what the trail will be made of. I want to assume that it would be an extension of the cycle track and perhaps a wider sidewalk. $1.2m sounds like a lot, but it's tough to build a mile of trail in an urban setting for that amount of money. I'll be interested to learn more.
  2. Spartan

    South Carolina's population growth

    It's an unsustainable growth model from both a financial standpoint and an environmental/health standpoint. It costs more for local governments to provide and maintain infrastructure and services to low density development. The short term results aren't a big deal, but in the long run it means that developed areas will either not be maintained or have to have tax increases to fund the work needed to maintain or upgrade the facilities. I would argue Atlanta is well past the breaking point. The traffic there as a result of poor planning is an absolute nightmare, and the options to live in a place that has some semblance of walkability are few and far between. Being from the Upstate, the growth there is the most personal to me. It's a very high growth area, and a significant majority of it is occurring outside of any municipal jurisdiction. This fact is important because counties are not set up to manage growth. It's not to say that they can't, it's just that they haven't shown any interest in doing so. I'm not opposed to growth, but I think it's important to set up development regulations that make it easier for developers to create walkable, highly connected development. Infill development is wonderful, but its still a very small percentage of total growth, even if it's the most visible and interesting to discuss. Beaufort County is the only county that has implemented any sort of meaningful ordinances to this regard. They adopted a form-based code a few years ago that is making some noteworthy and positive impacts on the county's growth. The only other place of any size I'm aware of that has a form-based code in South Carolina are the City of Beaufort and Spartanburg, whose code covers the greater downtown area. If anyone knows of other places, please share. Ah ok. I didn't look it up. My only point was that density is important to consider as long as its understood that it's a somewhat arbitrary statistic. Downtown Charleston has lost considerable density compared to 150-200 years ago too, but health codes and zoning play a role in that change from a historical perspective.
  3. Spartan

    South Carolina's population growth

    The density aspect of growth is certainly worth paying attention to. As you indicated, the context for each city's boundary is unique. This fact makes it difficult to objectively compare the true density of the cities as a whole. Much of Greenville's growth seems to be tied to its investments in downtown, and I don't get the impression that it's annexing many residential areas (Verdae notwithstanding). The rapid rate of infill along with the general demand to live near downtown has helped boost the residential population of downtown and nearby neighborhoods, respectively. Columbia and Charleston have managed to annex more aggressively, and while they have larger populations they annexed very low density development to do so. It's interesting too because a significant portion of Charleston's area is marsh and water, and Charleston has - by far- the most dense and walkable urban core of any city in the Carolinas. It would be interesting to do the math to see how much of Charleston's area is developable land versus marsh and water. I think the larger challenge is that with the exception of the urban cores of our largest cities, the vast majority of the growth is unsustainable sprawl. While your statement is correct, 1000 units is nothing to scoff at. That's a major development on its own.
  4. Spartan

    Greater Spartanburg Projects & Developments

    The I-85 rehab project will be complete April 26, 2019 according to the SCDOT website. https://scdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=ca1cd69fc88945f4bb465e16765d761c The I-85 widening project will last until 2021/2022 (for the portion between Spartanburg and the Broad River). Phase III (from the Broad River to the state line) will last a few years longer. NCDOT is also lining up funding for widening their side in the future, which will be even more construction along that stretch of road.
  5. Spartan

    Unified Development Ordinance

    Nah. It's easy to spot a flawed approach. I've lived here long enough the Charlotte way. Move to town, tear down the things that made you want to move here in the first place, and then complain about it when the next round of people do the same thing.
  6. 1- There is no way to fund $6-8 Billion without federal funds. It just won't work. 2- MARTA is heavy rail (as opposed to light rail), and yes, they have seen significant growth around their stations. Their situation is a bit different though because MARTA actually owned most of the land around its suburban /non-subway stations, so they only started developing it in the past 15 years or so. 3- The development patterns around light rail and commuter rail are similar, and commuter rail does not generate the same type of TOD activity. Not to say that there isn't any, but CR doesn't serve your day to day needs since it generally only runs during rush hour (and a few times during the day too).
  7. Spartan

    Charlotte Center City Streetcar Network

    The only streetcar plan, currently, is the one on Trade Street. I think it would be cool to run one up Church and down the median on 10th to Graham Street and then north to Camp North End and Lockwood, etc. or maybe down Oaklawn to the Gold Line on Beatties Ford. Church and 10th are historic routes... the old streetcar being the primary reason for the median on 10th St.
  8. Spartan

    Misc. Uptown Projects/News

    Its dead. They took the sign down from the window. I'm just hoping someone will find a way to re-use the building sooner than later.
  9. Spartan

    Unified Development Ordinance

    It's worth noting that the CCW Growth Framework essentially was the "vision plan" for the city. The specifics were then codified and modified over the years form the viewpoints of various departments creating the system that exists today. The truth is that the fragmented approach to planning worked, but not particularly well. There are many times when ordinances contradict each other either literally or sometimes in spirit. The value of a Vision Plan or, more accurately, a Comprehensive Plan is that you can address these things with a more comprehensive approach. This creates a common set of goals for the city, and results in a clearer direction for how to structure the UDO. Stopping growth is not an option, though. I mean, they can try if you want, but it won't solve anything. The growth with just go somewhere else and your city won't be able to leverage any benefits out of it. It's always amazing to me that people don't want change... It's highly hypocritical to move here and then try to argue that everyone after you is the problem. I do have some sympathy for the long timers, but it seems to me that their time would be better spent arguing for higher quality development and better infrastructure to deal with the growth.
  10. Spartan

    Traffic Congestion and Highway Construction

    1- The so-called "free" improvements won't do anything to fix traffic in the long run. As has been demonstrated by every other major city in America, widening lanes does not fix congestion in major cities. It just delays it. 2- South Carolina is widening 85 from Spartanburg (where it currently drops to 2 lanes in each direction) to the Broad River, which is just east of Gaffney. There is a separate project that will widen the rest of it to the state line. All of these projects are supposed to be complete around the end of 2021, so probably early 2022 if all goes well and there aren't the usual weather delays that affect roadway projects.
  11. I'll wait for the final product, but I'm not wild about the color combo.
  12. Spartan

    James Island Reincorporation

    Hahaha, so much for keeping those taxes low! This is why PSD's (special purpose districts) should not exist. It's too complicated. The Town should have to provide its own fire service, and residents shouldn't have to vote for two different elected bodies to figure this stuff out.
  13. Is that yellow area the final color?
  14. Spartan

    South Carolina's population growth

    It really doesn't have much to do with Greenville, specifically. Spartanburg and Anderson are both in the same situation as Greenville, just with smaller populations. It has more to do with WHEN the growth happened. The answer to your question lies in the Home Rule Act of 1975. In order to understand the history of municipal governments in South Carolina you have to look at the history of state as a whole. South Carolina politics dating back to colonial times has always been dominated by the legislature. This was by design because the colonists did not support the Crown Government, and thus resented the presence of the royal representative. By minimizing his power they were able to have more local control (local being the Colony of South Carolina in this case). Also keep in mind that Carolina, and later South Carolina, was largely comprised of Charleston and then farms and Native Americans in the Colonial and Antebellum eras. You can look at the history of the state and see the evolution of the government. But it was always controlled by the general assembly, which in turn was dominated by Charleston for most of the state's history (and still heavily influenced by it today). Only in the past 30 years or so has the governor's office been given enough power to be anything more than a figurehead. Anyway, to get back to the point, local government in South Carolina was also dominated by the state. Cities and Counties were directly controlled by the state. To that end, we didn't really have "counties" in the way we think of them today until after the Civil War (I assume it was a function of the Reconstruction era government, but I have not researched that aspect of it). We had parishes and districts (ie: Ninety Six) that really served more for organizing the judicial system than administering local government. After the Civil War, counties were the dominant local government. Each county had 1 senator who was incredibly powerful. The senators controlled all the money that flowed into their counties via an annual "supply bill," and it was a very desirable position to have, especially if you represented a county with a larger population. Incidentally, the good ol' boy system we have today traces its roots to this era. So, the state controlled all aspects of government, right? Counties were their primary local government funding mechanism. Cities were there too, but generally an afterthought. But keep 1975 in mind... as you are undoubtedly aware, urban growth continued in South Carolina. In most states, cities are the entities set up to deal with urban issues. Police, fire, water, sewer, garbage collection, roads, etc... these are the typical things that local government is designed to deal with. Generally speaking, if you need those types of "urban" services, you should be a part of a city so that your taxes can be directed for that purpose. But South Carolina chose to do something different. Rather than enabling annexation as a tool, they set up "Special Purpose Districts" in the 1930s to handle the job. These districts were set up by County governments and to address urban problems. They are quasi-governmental bodies that typically "govern" one specific urban service. Examples include water and sewer districts, fire districts, etc. They were set up by county governments during the era before 1975, when Counties and their Senators were the main source of funding and thus power in the state. So, you ended up with a system where cities provided urban services to their residents, but often were not able to provide these same services beyond their corporate limits, and Special Purpose Districts were chartered to pick up the slack, because urban services are a necessity when you live in close proximity to other people. The interesting thing, is that in many cases, the SPD's paid for the urban service that they bought from the neighboring City. So for example, there were (and are to this day) "water districts" that provide water service to their constituents by taking their tax money to build and maintain infrastructure that is connected to the neighboring city, from which they then buy their water. I’m not saying cities didn’t annex prior to 1975. Charleston annexed a large area from Calhoun Street to Line Street in 1850, and they first crossed the Ashley River in 1960. Columbia annexed Shandon and Eau Claire at some point. Greenville and Spartanburg annexed some of their older neighborhoods too. The process was just different. Quite frankly, I have yet to find a reliable source to tell me how cities in SC annexed prior to 1975, but the point is that they certainly did… just not very much. My assumption is that it was an act of the general assembly led by their senator. It all changed in 1975, though. Due to the Voting Rights Act, South Carolina was forced to devolve its power away from the general assembly. The 1 senator for each county system went away (while we still have 46 senators, the districts are created based on population, not county boundaries). The Home Rule Act passed in 1975, essentially giving cities the right to annex and do the things that they were meant to do. It also ended the creation of Special Purpose Districts, but allowed the existing ones to be grandfathered in. In all, there are roughly 250 remaining special purpose districts in South Carolina. Their legacy, however, remains. Each of them has its own elected body, can raise your taxes, and pass bonds independently of the County government... and the fun part is that they overlap and can create hundreds of unique tax district combinations. It makes managing the county's taxes super fun, and you can look it up for yourself if you check out your county's budget/revenue streams. Spartanburg County, for example, has over 200 unique tax district categories (not counting where they are geographically). Home Rule also set up the annexation laws we have in place today. However it used to work didn’t matter. Cities had to go through the arduous process that exists to this day, and as a result, the city limits that exist today for all cities in SC are, for the most part, basically the same as they were geographically in 1975 (Columbia and the Charleston area cities being the major exceptions). Think about that situation. though... you now have cities that can annex, but the areas they would typically annex to provide services to already have the services they need. So, as a resident, why would I annex when I ostensibly have the services I need? The result is that they don’t annex too much. However, when they do, they do it to provide water, sewer, or some other urban service to people who need it. The interesting thing, to me, is that cities in the Upstate have been by far the most passive about the situation, whereas cities in the Lowcountry have been the most aggressive. There is also a strong correlation with the number of SPD's that exist in each region - Upstate counties have the most and Lowcountry counties have the least. Greenville, for example, has 29, Charleston has 10, Spartanburg has 28, Berkeley has 1. Here's a list if you want to see for yourself. The reason you should care about all of this, though, is not just because of the population statistics. Its about good governance. When I lived in SC, I once voted for some guy to be on the board of whatever fire district I lived in. He was the only guy on the ballot. I have no idea who he was, and I have no idea if he was qualified for the position. There was no campaign. To me, that is not acceptable. If you live in multiple overlapping districts you would have to keep track of all of them, plus your school board, plus your county council, plus your state legislature districts, plus congress. It's too many layers of government, and in my opinion it makes for a highly ineffective system. Anyway, that's my rant for tonight. Point being, Greenville isn't to blame for it's population stats. It's the General Assembly.
  15. Spartan

    The River District

    You mean kinda like Ballantyne?