With a new decade upon us and a pandemic hopefully soon in the rearview, 2020 saw the county looking forward. It was a year when old problems began to be looked at with fresh eyes, when the pitfalls of the county’s impending growth were front and center and when entirely new challenges emerged.
City and county team up to tackle affordable housing in the coming decade
If Greenville County wants to keep up with the demand for affordable housing, it will need to add 10,000 new affordable units and maintain 3,000 more over the next decade.
Otherwise, the problem of housing affordability will grow beyond local government’s ability to meet the need.
“Having diverse affordable housing options throughout the salary spectrum is truly important for a sustainable community,” said John Castile, executive director for the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority.
Sewer consolidation fight comes front and center
For years Greenville County has been mulling over the possibility of unifying its multiple sewer collection agencies under one entity.
New plans recently approved by the county offer the most substantive step yet toward bringing the county’s independent sewage collection agencies together by July 1, 2021. The plan has already received broad support among the development community, the industrial community and the environmental community as well.
But lawsuits from some special purpose districts argued the proposal would unlawfully impede upon the rights of citizens, and one council member called it a “hostile takeover.”
Greenville County proceeds with Sheriff Advisory Board amid racial tension
What Sheriff Hobart Lewis called “a bridge to build trust” in the community proceeded on schedule against a backdrop of flaring racial tension nationwide.
The advisory board, the formation of which received unanimous approval from County Council in July, won’t directly review deputies’ actions or have subpoena power. That investigative power remains under the purview of the State Law Enforcement Division, the solicitor’s office, the state attorney general and other impartial agencies.
But Lewis said in a public meeting in July that he hopes the board will bring trust and add the “voice of the community” inside the Sheriff’s Office.
DIG Greenville sees light at the end of the tunnel
The massive undertaking by Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) to construct the largest-ever underground tunnel in Greenville’s history is now complete, capping off more than two years of work.
Stretching 1.3 miles, or about 6,000 feet, the $46 million sewer line tunnel known as Dig Greenville runs from Cleveland Park near the Greenville Zoo to Hudson Street near downtown.
“The issue is obviously all the growth in the region,” said Jason Gillespie, senior engineering project manager at ReWa. “If you build a large development, you want the roads to have enough capacity for the additional cars and traffic. Same thing’s true for wastewater, even though they’re not as visible.”
The biggest issue affecting rural landowners in Greenville County
An ordinance came before County Council in September to amend the county’s Land Development Regulations, which would require that any home built in the county’s rural areas — which are not currently zoned — must have a lot size of 2 acres or more.
This would only apply to residences, so businesses or manufacturing facilities would not be affected.
But that seemingly simple requirement has stirred up controversy. Some view the potential ordinance as a positive solution to stave off urban sprawl and minimize density in Greenville’s urban areas. Others view it as malicious backdoor zoning that infringes upon property rights.