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Spartan

Zoning in Spartanburg County

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This article is extremely intresting. Its an opinion piece, but it is rooted in facts.

"Eighty-six percent of the respondents to the Voice of the Voter survey conducted by the Herald-Journal and NewsChannel 7 indicated that they want stronger laws that channel development and protect neighborhoods."

"An overwhelming majority, 71 percent, also stated that they want county governments to enact zoning. Only 14 percent oppose zoning."

"But Spartanburg County leaders have not responded. Not only have they refused to adopt any of the zoning models that have worked well in other areas of the state, they have refused to significantly improve the county's existing land-use ordinances."

Thoughts?

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One influential member of the county council is a real estate developer. What does that tell you?

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Just one? wow. I'm actually surprised its not more.

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Well the dreaded "z" word has reared its ugly head again. But this time it sounds like Spartans will get a chance to vote in a referendum about wether or not they want it.

HJ Article

I swear I never thought I'd see they day where this came up to the ballot. I sincerely hope that the people of Spartanburg County make the right decision. Zoning is a necessary tool to plan for the growth and development that is occurring. Do you really want to preserve the peach orchards and horse farms in the northern part of the county? the vast forests of the southern part of the county? How about reign in on the sprawl of Boiling Springs? Well- zoning is the best way to do that.

Contact your County Council representatives and tell them you want zoning.

I'm interested to know what you UrbanPlaneteers think about this.

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One step closer to zoning. The County Council is going to hear from Anderson County about its zoning practices today. From the sound of the article, the County wants to let voters decide by council district. I am not in favor of the way Anderson does business with its zoning. Its basically a front to make it look like they are accomplishing something. Only 1 district has voted in favor of it, and as such it is completely ineffective at what its supposed to do. I think that the way the council districts split up the county, we would basically not see any zoning in the places that need it most- namely districts 2 and 5. Districts 3 & 6 I could conceivably see voting for it simply because this is where the city is, and zoning is already a way of doing business there.

Thoughts?

councildistricts.gif

HJ Article

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This article in the HJ highlights Anderson County's presentation to the County Council. I am relieved to see that they explained how broken their system is. By allowing voters to choose whether or not to have zoning by precinct, you set it up to have pockets of zoning, which completely defeats the point of zoning in the first place since your neighbor may still not have it. That leaves room for people to come in with a junk yard or the always controversial landfill and there's nothing you could do about it despite the fact that you voted for zoning in your precinct.

I personally think Spartanburg County should create an "urban district" of some sort that has a more well defined set of parameters for the higher growth areas and a less defined set for the outlying areas. I also hope that the future code contains mixed use zoning and encourages more than 1/2 acre lot subdivisions and that sets some tree save requirements.

It also seems that the zoning topic will not be on the November 08 ballot. Interesting.

HJ Article

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Council is having several public forums concerning planning and growth. The public is invited to attend and offer and suggestions or comments. You do no have to live in a particular area to attend. See the article from the HJ for more info and times;locatins.

ARTICLE

Edited by hub-city

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I'm glad to see this moving forward. I have heard that there is a lot of positive momentum for zoning in Spartanburg County and that most of the County Council is supportive.

Meetings are set for 7 p.m.

  • August 20, Una Fire Department;
  • August 21, Anderson Mill Elementary School;
  • September 8, Mt. Calvary Presbyterian Church (Roebuck)
  • September 9, Broome High School.

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There have been two articles about the public meetings for zoning. After reading them I can't say that I can make anything out of them. The articles we're very random in terms of content, and they didn't flow very well. The pattern that appears to be emerging is that people want everything that zoning offers to preserve the rural character of the county. The Home Builders Association doesn't want zoning either, which is ironic since almost every city in the nation has zoning and somehow they are still able to scrape by.

Someone did bring up the issue of cost, which is a legitimate concern. Implementing zoning isn't expensive- its just staff time to write the ordinance. You do have to enforce it though, and that will likely cost some money. IMO, the costs of implementing and enforcing zoning are worth it to preserve the character of our community and improve quality of life- both of which will have better returns for us as a community in the long run.

Article 1: Quality of life trumps zoning at Spartanburg County land-use meeting in Una

Article 2: Discussions turn to county zoning, rural character

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More on zoning. The headline is misleading. It sounds like there was reasonably intelligent discussion about zoning at this meeting.

Article

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This is interesting. Now it seems that Council is going to delay their decision on zoning. This is starting to get annoying. I think that most people in this county want zoning. Just do it.

I agree with one thing that Arthur Cleveland said- Spartanburg should consider something other than standard Euclidean zoning. That means looking at a form-based code. A form based code acts like zoning, but it doesn't have the same type of controls over your land. It just guides what the physical structures that are built on it should look like. That means that if you're out in the country, you should be able to build a house or farm or whatever and not get caught up in unnecessary regulations about it. If you're in an urban or suburban area, you would have to conform to standards that are more appropriate for those areas. A new subdivision might require more connectivity and sidewalks, a commercial development might be required to be at the street rather than behind 10 acres of parking. Its all based on density and proximity to existing development. If you research the idea of Spartanburg's proposed urban code based off of the "urban transect" you will have an idea of what I'm talking about, and IMO its a much better solution than standard zoning.

If Spartanburg is going to change its course, I hope that they will chose a better course and not ignore what most people seem to want. Lets not construe those who show up to meetings to complain as people who represent everyone.

Zoning Article

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The County had another zoning meeting, and surprise, surprise of the 50 or so people who showed up, only one was in favor.

I am ok with dissenting opinions, but sometimes people say things that just irritate me. In this case it was a realtor.

Realtor Bill McDaniel, who is against zoning, said most of the county's problems could be solved by improving buffering and screening requirements - in essence, making it easier for different types of land use to exist beside each other.

This is by far the biggest lie I've heard in a while. I doubt it was intentional... it was said probably more out of ignorance. The buffering of different land uses is one of the main reasons we have problems with sprawl. Not just in Spartanburg, but everywhere across the state. The concept of "buffers" is an idea of the 1960s/70s that made sense at the time but has proven beyond a doubt to be a bad idea. We have to move away from buffering land uses and towards mixing them. Connecting them. A well connected street system with lots of mixed use zoning along major corridors will serve to "buffer" (for lack of a better term) traffic and commercial activity from neighborhoods while not allowing them to be separated so that you have to drive 1/4 of a mile from one store to the next instead of walking.

I also found this "key issue" to be amusing:

The county should work with school districts - which have ignored state law in the past requiring their plans to go before the planning commission - to relieve traffic congestion when new schools are built.

Anyone want to guess how the County can mandate that schools do this? The answer starts with a "Z."\

The good news is that only 50-100 people showed up to each of the meetings so far and they do not represent the majority of the 270,000 people who live in Spartanburg County.

Article

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County Council is going to be updated by the Planning Department today about the status of the land use ordinance. They are not going to adopt anything yet, but I hope that this means the HJ will report on the status of the thing in tomorrow's paper. The article says that there might be some more public meetings that would show more detail than the last round of meetings.

HJ Article

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The update to the Council had a lot of good stuff in it, based on the article in the HJ. I won't summarize it because the article was all over the place. The best thing I saw is that they discussed connectivity in new subdivisions and how to improve conditions for bicycles and pedestrians. Lots of good stuff in there.

One thing that they mention is that people agree they want to preserve Spartanburg County's rural character... but that people could not agree on what the definition of

rural character" should be. So, my question to you all is this: what does rural character mean to you, and what should Spartanburg County do to preserve it?

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Except for the southern half of the county I think we have already lost our "rural character".

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Nah, north of the lakes is pastoral countryside.

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Well, a Dollar General is going to open up in a nicer part of town, and in a relatively non-commercial area. Thanks to the lack of zoning, the neighborhood has no way to control what it looks like. Its fortunate that the County was able to negotiate brick on three walls, but no matter how you dress it up, it's still a Dollar General. If there were land use controls in Spartanburg County, it would have given residents a means to protest or at least have input on the design.

HJ Article

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Thanks for the link, Spartan. I thought this quote from the article was worth highlighting:

Lynch pointed out that state laws that make it tough for cities to annex helped create the Country Club Road problem. If the area was in the city it would have been subject to stricter regulation.

"As much as I'm a county guy, the city ought to be bigger than it is," Lynch said. "That's where part of our rub in land-use issues comes from, because the city does not encompass what it should. Folks move here and it looks like a city and it feels like a city, and they expect city protection. And then they find out they are in the county."

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That's a great quote. What's interesting to me is that this Lynch fellow is head of the local realtor's association. Realtors are usually in lock step with developers when it comes to this type of thing, and developer's are usually not in favor of annexation.

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The zoning ordinance is gaining momentum. Hopefully in 2009 we will see this thing adopted. It's funny how they were willing to let it sit until a crappy development was proposed on the Eastside. Hmm...

The HJ Article is a good read, by the way. Interesting perspective from County Councilmen that you might not expect. Namely Mintz, but others too.

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Here's another one about land use regulations. Goupstate.com is really good about hiding these things.

It's a good read if you're interested in the subject matter, but it's not anything revealing. It basically goes into some detail with examples of how zoning, if done properly, can be beneficial to Spartanburg County. There are several models that could be used from within the Carolinas. I hope they use a North Carolina example, as cities in NC tend to have stronger zoning regulations than those in South Carolina.

HJ Article

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I assume this is on the same topic, though it sounds like it might be different. Councilman Britt is pushing "design standards" but they are using it in a weird/cryptic way. Does anyone know what is going on? They are having some meetings today... I assume the HJ will clarify this thing tomorrow.

Article

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An update on the design standards issue: HJ Article

Also - if anyone on here is a tweeter - you can follow issues like this via the SHJ reporter Jason Spencer at: JTS Twitter

He is great about sending quotes and minute by minute updates directly from Council meetings.

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Ugh. That clarifies the article from yesterday. Rather than adopting a zoning ordinance they set it up so that anything within 500 of a neighborhood or subdivision is subject to more stringent facade requirements. 500 feet is NOTHING. Basically, they've made it so that the Dollar General in Ben Avon situation can't come up again in the same way.

This is completely asinine. Why not adopt zoning in the high-growth, urban parts of the county? We're letting our country get built out with crapty development. In 20-30 years the very things that attract people to the Upstate will have been entirely mowed down.

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