Greenville City Council

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The city is moving closer to allowing accessory dwelling units, which are units property owners build beside the main house and then, in many cases, rent to other people.

Michael Kerski, Greenville planning and development manager, said during a City Council work session Monday that although the units aren’t allowed in single-family residential neighborhoods, he estimates about 300-400 are in the city.

Council members have yet to vote on the issue, but several members expressed support of allowing the units if they were regulated.

Homeowners in areas zoned as single-family residential are allowed to build units beside their houses for their personal use only. These units are allowed for usages such as storage, an office or guest room.

The units cannot have a full kitchen and still be permitted in the city. Kerski said people apparently get around this restriction by adding appliances after inspections.

Since the units are not allowed, homeowners build them without notifying the city. If the city were to issue conditional use permits, city staff could regulate the units and “ensure that they meet the building codes,” Kerski said.

The cities of Asheville, Charlotte, Nashville and Austin, Texas, have all passed some type of ordinance allowing the units, Kerski said.

Councilwoman Gaye Sprague expressed concern about more units going up in city neighborhoods. “It would be a very different living experience,” she said. Sprague said she would possibly like to allow neighborhood members to vote on whether to allow a homeowner to build the unit.

Any proposed change to allow accessory dwelling units would first go before the Planning Commission in February.

Kerski also recommended updates to the city’s infill standards, which were the result of several meetings by the Infill Task Force to review the standards. Recommended changes were to require that 20 percent impervious/driveway locations requirements apply citywide to existing homes making site improvements.

All new streets will would also have to meet the infill standards, and conditional use for parking in the front of a house would be allowed if topography or other circumstances restricted car access to the back of the house.

Legislative agenda

During the work session, councilmembers also heard an update on the City of Greenville State/Federal Legislative Agenda from Julie Horton, government relations manager for the City of Greenville.

The top priority is securing funding for infrastructure in the city. According to Horton, city staff is seeking a change in state statutes to allow municipalities to pursue a capital projects sales tax for a defined period of time to fund specific infrastructure projects.

She said the city also wants to protect funding through business license fees, accommodations and hospitality taxes and the state’s Local Government Fund, which has declined significantly in recent years and which Horton doesn’t expect to be fully funded again.

The city will also work to secure state funding for police body cameras, which legislators passed a law requiring for law enforcement officials.

The top federal priority for the city is getting funding for the city’s federal courthouse.

Horton said the courthouse is fifth on the list of Congress’ Courthouse Project Plan but has yet to have funds appropriated for its construction. She said the city is investigating whether a public-private partnership would be allowed to expedite the construction.

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