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Planning Commission decision sidesteps council's mandate

Variance approved from land development regulation

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, November 20, 2012

There was a collective sigh and laughter when City of Greer Planning and Zoning Coordinator Glenn Pace told the planning commissioners its decision on a variance could not be overturned by City Council.

Thus, by a (5-1) vote Tuesday night, the commissioners awarded Arbor Engineering, represented by Bryan Shumpert, the variance it was requesting seeking relief from building sidewalks at Dillard Creek Crossing Phase 3 on Vaughn Road.

Shumpert argued the commissioners approved the design plan for the project in the spring and only recently informed developers an ordinance had since been put in place requiring sidewalks with new developments.

City Council was unaware of the planning commission’s previous approval because Pace said his office misplaced those documents and they were never presented when the new ordinance was approved.

“The subdivision was approved in May and there has been no comment since on the sidewalk. June we rezoned and requested the variance,” Shumpert said. “If we put a sidewalk on this site it will create water runoff and we don’t think the sidewalk will be safe and secure.”

Shumpert said costly re-engineering and labor would be needed to adjust for the studies that would also impact the subdivision’s previous plans.

Commissioner Clay Jones made the motion to approve the variance. “With regard to the additional cost it will take to build the sidewalks when there are no other sidewalks in surrounding subdivisions, I favor granting the variance.”

Commissioner Brian Martin, a Greer attorney practicing in real estate and business law, told Shumpert, “We have received clear direction from City Council and it is very important we keep that in mind. However this information presented in this situation doesn’t warrant us to deny Mr. Shumpert’s request.”

Don Foster was the lone commissioner voting against the variance. “I think council is correct in its decision to request sidewalks to be built in this instance and with other property owners.”

At issue was 700 feet of sidewalk to be placed on Vaughn Road. Where the property line ends there remains weed and grass growth. Council’s intent is for future developed property to have connecting walkways.

Morris Burton, Board Commissioner, agreed with the commission’s decision. “The documents should not have been lost. Once you approve a project and tell someone they can do it, you can’t come back later and tell them they can’t.

“The county would have to spend money, too on new surveys and it would cost the developer a bunch of money for engineering and putting in the sidewalks.”

Other applications for review approved unanimously (6-0):

• 301 E. Poinsett Street rezoned from I-1 (industrial) to C-1 (central business). City owns the property.

•161 Joe Leonard Road, zoned 17.85 acres to R 7.5 (single family residence) for the purpose to construct 48 detached single-family homes.  Commissioners voiced concern the 2-lane Joe Leonard Road could accommodate heavy traffic. The proposed number of units falls short of 100, requiring a traffic study. Property owners are Scott and Diane Milks.

• 8.46 acres on Gibbs Shoal Road rezoned to R-5 (single family – residential district, patio homes) for the purpose to construct 35 detached single-family homes. Property is owned by Foothills Presbytery.

These properties passed first reading last Tuesday and become effective on City Council’s second reading scheduled Nov. 27.

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