westsider28

Spartanburg County "Area Performance Planning"

14 posts in this topic

Spartanburg County is taking the first small steps toward some rudimentary zoning and land-use regulations.  The plan is to divide the county into 5 planning areas and base land use on adjoining roads.  They plan to start with the southwest planning area, which includes BMW, Toray, and Bass Pro Shops projects.  I would prefer comprehensive zoning (like in the City), but at least this is a start.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I thought this topic was worthy of its own thread. This so-called "land use regulation" could be an important step towards managing sprawl and the general onslaught of bad development in the western portion of the county and Boiling Springs.

 

This is the same concept that they've been talking about for years at the County level. I wish they had published a map online. If I come across something I'll post it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

County Council voted to move forward with land-use planning

 

I liked this quote from Planning Commission Chairman Whit Kennedy, "We're going to try to get out in front of growth, which I'll be the first to admit it, we failed miserably at in Boiling Springs."

 

Good to see that they recognize their mistakes and realize that being proactive with lane-use planning and regulation will benefit everyone in the county.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it's a start!

 

I want to know more about this so-called framework. It seems to me like they are starting with an out-dated planning model, but it will be interesting to see what comes of it.

 

The council voted unanimously to approve the measures recommended by the Spartanburg County Planning Commission. The framework of the initiative, dubbed “Area Performance Planning,” divides the counties into zones with similar characteristics. Roads in each of those zones would then be characterized as arterial, collector or local, and land use regulations would be based on the classification of the roads adjacent to the property.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to the HJ, "An advisory committee for Spartanburg County's Area Performance Planning is set to meet for the first time this month to look at how to balance growth in the county's Southwest Corridor."

 

http://www.goupstate.com/article/20150705/ARTICLES/150709878/1083/ARTICLES?Title=Spartanburg-County-panel-to-look-at-growth-issues-in-Southwest-Corridor&tc=ar

 

 

So, progress still seems to be happening. I'm not clear what the meeting is about exactly, but it's related to the County's land use plans (or lack thereof).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I don't know what their deal is.  Everything they're talking about sounds like zoning, but they continue to insist, "There won't be any zoning. We won't zone any dirt. I don't see that coming out of this process."  How would any guidelines they create be enforceable?

 

There's also been a committee meeting about whether or not to restrict firearm use in "densely populated neighborhoods."  Complaints came from Hillbrook residents who live in the County.  The initial issue to me is defining that ambiguous term.  Zoning would clearly solve that problem, and make the discussion much simpler.  :dontknow:  (Annexing that whole area into the City would solve the problem, too.)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So it continues... this bastardization of a zoning process is still moving forward. Here's an article from the HJ...The best quote from is this one: "This is not a zoning process," Spartanburg County Planning Director Bob Harkrader said. "We are talking about land use regulation." .....Last time I checked, land use regulations are usually called zoning. 

Using Lexington County as a model for growth is quite possibly the worst idea I've ever heard. Lexington is one of the better examples of horrendous sprawl in this state. It is arguably worse than Spartanburg County in many respects. If this moves forward as the model for growth, it might help prevent the Dollar General scenario on Country Club Rd, but it won't do anything to address the sprawl pattern and traffic that everyone claims to hate.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Here's another article. I also learned that the County is actually much further along in this process than I was able to glean from the HJ coverage. I'm pretty good about keeping up with the HJ, so I blame them for poor coverage of this important subject.

I'll post more later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "zoning" isn't being called zoning. It's being called "area performance planning." I guess it's more accurate not to call it zoning since they don't appear to actually use any type of zoning. The link below is the County's website on the topic. It's really not very useful in terms of explaining what they actually want to do aside from using roadway classifications to make land use decisions. That concept is extremely dated and will not result in positive change for the county. It will, however, result in continued sprawl and possibly help to concentrate similar land use types along certain road types. I hope to learn more details though... stay tuned.

http://spartanburgcountyapp.org/what-is-area-performance-planning/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As promised, I've learned quite a bit more about the process to bring zoning to Spartanburg County. More specifically, I got my hands on a copy of the draft Area Performance Planning ordinance language that the adoption committee is also reviewing. So, with that said - it's still a draft version, and my comments might change when the final product comes out. The ordinance is only going to apply to the Southwest planning area as identified on the County's website. It's reasonable to assume that the ordinance language could vary for the other areas in the county. 

That being said, it's nearly a carbon copy of Lexington County's zoning ordinance. I can't say for sure if it's verbatim, but it's damn close if it's not verbatim. Here's a link if you want to see Lexington's ordinance

The seemingly useless and lacking information provided by the Herald-Journal is not unjustified. The basic summary that is being provided over and over again is spot on. The performance based planning model will use roadway classifications to push development into certain areas. Specifically, most commercial and industrial uses will largely prohibited on anything except arterial roads - or to phrase it differently, higher intensity land uses will be encouraged to locate on thoroughfares. The so-called "Area Performance Planning" is essentially zoning that doesn't regulate land use - at least not directly. 

I should also note that I don't know which roads will fall into each category. I think it's safe to assume that major numbered highways like 29, 221, 296, etc. will probably be arterial streets. Based on Lexington's model - the street classifications are fairly intuitive. You could probably look at Google Maps and figure out which streets will fall into which category based on the line width for each street.

What it does do:

  • It establishes zoning-like regulations on land. Things like buffers, setbacks, density, height plane, noise, etc are all in there. These are common features of any zoning ordinance, and nothing in there will prevent people from using their property as they want.
  • It allows for a minor level of architectural controls (very minor) that will like result in marginally higher quality development. So, for example, the Dollar General debacle on Country Club Road probably wouldn't happen under the new ordinance.
  • It uses an antiquated road classification system (arterial, collector, local) that was a product of road/highway planning in the 1950s and 1960s. 
  • It encourages a linear, strip-based style of development and likely prevents clustering (depends on how specific roads are classified and relies on the map which isn't available to the public yet)
  • It requires cross-access connections between parking lots for commercial development (this is a very good thing, and if you've ever been on 123 in Easley you will understand what we don't want to happen in Spartanburg County)
  • It, interestingly, establishes (rather generous) height restrictions based on the size of the parcel. So if you've got a big enough lot and want to go vertical, you will be restricted to roughly 40 stories. The smaller the lot, the more restrictive on height. None of it appears unreasonable for a suburban development pattern.
  • Notably, it does put a lot of conditions on things like mines or landfills, such that they can't be located anywhere.

What it doesn't do:

  • It doesn't prescribe what land uses are appropriate for certain locations (ie: it isn't Euclidean Zoning), and therefore it doesn't allow the County to create commercial nodes, industrial areas, and concentrate development in specific areas.
  • It doesn't allow for mixed use development (which may or may not be ok)
  • It doesn't preserve areas to remain rural 
  • It doesn't appear to incorporate requirements to improve adjacent or surrounding infrastructure for new development
  • It doesn't change the game for Spartanburg County
  • It doesn't prevent Spartanburg County from becoming like Charlotte or Atlanta.

It should be noted that the APP ordinance doesn't include the subdivision ordinance, which will have to be re-written separately. That is a super-boring process - but its equally important. The test to me is whether or not you can recreate Converse Heights based on the final version of the ordinance. Converse Heights should be the goal for neighborhood design, and cross connectivity to future subdivisions should be required up front.

In conclusion, I think this is a decent attempt to create something better for Spartanburg County. I don't think it's strong enough to accomplish what I feel like I hear people saying they want. Further, I've spent a fair amount of time in Lexington County and the type of sprawl they have there is among the worst in South Carolina - right up there with Berkeley County, York County, and SE Greenville County. I would rather Spartanburg County not use that as a model for development. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spartan, have you thought about an H-J letter to the editor? Or better yet an op-ed.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. Quite seriously. If I do it I'm going to wait until the draft ordinance language is finalized and available for public review.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, I take it back - no Op-ed for me. After some more research and thought, I've decided there isn't really any point. There's too much momentum so it wouldn't affect anything. 

The ordinance itself really isn't going to be an issue. It will be a huge step forward for the County. Quite frankly, it might end up being the best zoning ordinance in the Upstate if the entire county adopts it over time - Anderson and Greenville both use a more standard euclidean model that only serves parts of those counties and they aren't particularly strong and their effectiveness is debatable. Spartanburg County is going about it the right way - they have convened focus groups and created an advisory committee and a technical committee to talk about this issues and what they want the ordinance to accomplish along with how it should be structured. Based on what I can tell, Council supports this direction. Keep in mind, though, that zoning is just one of the tools that is used to affect development. Zoning is not a plan. It doesn't identify a path forward. It doesn't establish a vision.

The larger problem, IMO, is that there is still a systemic lack of true planning at the County level (side note: the City does a decent job). The County's comprehensive plan does not provide any meaningful guidance for development, or goals/strategies/policies that would actually serve as a guide for future development. A good plan established a vision and provides direction on what types of changes are necessary to achieve that vision and is used by staff and decision makers to make decisions about development and infrastructure. With an 'only zoning' approach, everything is reactionary, and will continue to be going forward. Until that changes and Spartanburg adopts a more effective approach to planning, you can expect Spartanburg County to continue its hard charge towards becoming more like the suburban parts of Charlotte or Greenville - lots of traffic, subdivisions, and no real sense of place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By mazman34340
      Glorious news!
      Charlotte is about to start overhauling it's god awful zoning laws. The council will be briefed on the process August 24th.
    • By mazman34340
      "If your zoning maps looks like mosaics, it might be time to update your zoning laws."
    • By RuskinSquare
      Short version: Greenville City Council asked the planning and zoning department to push deleting the existing ordinance restricting gates on developments and neighborhoods in the City of Greenville. It's expected to be on the agenda for the City Council's 11/26/2012 hearing.

      The Planning Commission recommended wording that they felt would strengthen the existing requriement, but ultimately the final wording/deletion is up to City Council to decide.


      A petition is circulating to support the Planning Commission's recommendation to strengthen the existing requriement:

      http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gates_GVL_SC/

      Long version in next post below

      Long version:

      The City of Greenville Planning and Zoning Department was asked by City Council to delete the City ordinance restricting gates, gate houses and guard houses unless the decision-making body determines there is public safety reason to allow them. (Reference: Planning Staff Report to the Greenville Planning Commission and City Council 9.13.2012, available online under the 9/13/2012 Planning Commission Agenda file Z-29-2012-TextAmendment.pdf)
      The Planning and Zoning Department proposed language that would eliminate the restriction altogether. At its September hearing, the Planning Commission felt eliminating the restriction completely was not consistent with goals of the Comprehensive Plan. They suggested the Planning and Zoning Department revise the language to require a public hearing and broaden the criteria by which the decision-making body would evaluate a proposal including gates, etc. There was further discussion of this issue at the October hearing. (Reference: Planning Staff Report to the Greenville Planning Commission and City Council 10.31.2012, available online under the 11/08/2012 Planning Commission Agenda file Z-29-2012-TextAmendment-Gates.pdf)

      At its November hearing, the Planning Commission approved recommended wording to City Council that they felt would strengthen the restriction on gates. The ordinance restricting gates is expected to be on the agenda for the November 26, 2012 City Council hearing. (Reference: my notes from the 11/08/2012 Planning Commission hearing). The Commission's recommended wording is based on Option 2 from the 10.31.2012 Planning Staff Report, less the word "marketability".

      My neighborhood has started circulating a petition supporting the Planning Commission's recommendation to strengthen the existing restriction. The petition is online at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gates_gvl_sc/