The only point of disagreement during the Greenville City Council meeting on Tuesday came over constructing a new sewer line in the West End.
The city has long had plans to expand sewer capacity in the West End by installing a line along Westfield Street. The chance to put in the new line came available recently when the owner of property along Westfield and the Reedy River agreed to grant the city an easement to build a sewer line through his property.
City staff said the sewer line will add capacity for a new housing development under construction on the property as well as future developments on the city’s west side.
Council members Lillian Brock Flemming and Jil Littlejohn objected to the resolution that moves construction plans forward – not because they oppose the new sewer line, but because the city failed to include any requirements that the property’s developer, Arlington Properties LLC, include affordable housing units in the new development.
“I realize this will help some other developments, but not one of them has any affordable housing in it, not even one apartment, which to me is a disaster,” Flemming said. She said developers were “running out people” who live in the area.
Littlejohn said the issue is bigger than just stormwater, and council members need to “take a stand” on projects and require developers to include affordable housing.
Mayor Knox White said the city is looking at a requirement that all future multifamily developments be mixed-use.
“That will be a big change for us, but I think most of us do see this project and certain other projects recently as lost opportunities for mixed-use development, particularly on the ground floor,” White said.
The city will pay for the cost of the sewer line in addition to $180,000 for the developer’s stormwater improvements on the site. The city will also reimburse the developer for sidewalk and streetscape enhancements. The amount that the city will pay for those enhancements will be mutually agreed on with the developer at a later time.
The resolution to move forward with the line did pass, with Flemming and Littlejohn as the only council members opposed. Councilwoman Gaye Sprague was absent for the vote.
City staff said lack of sewer capacity has been a long-running issue in the city. Mike Murphy, director of Public Works, said the city has hired engineering firm Black & Veatch to assess how the city should handle sewer capacity in regard to new developments in the future.
“We are going to be coming back with recommendations on how we can address capacity issues without the city having to pay for a large portion of the cost,” Murphy said. Developers would have to have some type of “stake in the game” in helping to pay for expanded capacity, he said, and city staff would use other cities as a model.
Council members unanimously agreed to allow the Salters Road/Old Sulphur Springs Road Improvement Project to move forward.
The project includes construction of a five-lane road section from Millennium Boulevard/Carolina Point Parkway to Verdae Boulevard. The section will have bike lanes, curb lawns, sidewalks, planted medians and a new bridge over I-85.
The S.C. Department of Transportation estimates the total cost of the project as $15.4 million, of which the city will contribute $421,000, Greenville County will give $250,00, Piedmont Natural Gas will pay $100,000, and Verdae Properties will contribute $500,000.
Murphy said City Manager John Castile negotiated two significant stipulations to the agreement: getting the county to contribute and capping the project cost, which means SCDOT will bear any cost overruns.
Castile “became the immovable object with the South Carolina Department of Transportation” to not make the city pay for any overages, he said. Construction is expected to begin around February or March of next year.