Anderson County Planning Commission's June 9 meeting, touted as the night more housing projects could be approved than in all of 2019, crawled past midnight with relatively few projects getting the go-ahead.
Only 658 of the potential 2,137 residences were approved after hundreds of residents gathered at the Anderson Civic Center to protest residential and mixed residential projects that proponents said are need to bring commercial and job opportunities to the area.
Backlogged from a cancelled March meeting, the agenda gave a platform for four rezoning requests, an RV/tiny home development adjacent to Homeland Park, an appeal application for a proposed subdivision near Anderson's regional airport and four preliminary subdivision projects.
Out of roughly 330 acres set to be rezoned as residential property, only 19 acres along Welpine Road in Sandy Springs currently a commercial plot proposed for a 252-unit apartment and duplex development by Greenville's Blackstream Development was passed on to the Anderson County Council. Eleven buildings on the site will house one-, two- and three-bedroom units up to three stories high.
Charleston developer Ben Chase's request to rezone a 29-acre commercial district property into a planned "affordable housing" development was unanimously denied after a line of fuming speakers took astand. The commission also rejected a 141-acre single-family residential property proposed by Spano and Associates for 435 single-family homes and 20 acres of commercial and non-residential projects.
Developers contended that residential projects will bridge a housing gap that is keeping economic growth out of the county; residents contended the proposed projects threaten existing businesses, farms and property values.
"The jobs are coming, so really, it's just a matter of finding this need and filling it. And filling it respectfully to the county advantage," Chase said during the public hearing.
When the Charleston developer first discovered the 29-acre property, then a cornfield, few rooftops could be found nearby, he said. According to Chase, retail tends to follow rooftops, so he developed blueprints for a planned housing development instead of a big box store like Target or a strip mall.
Inspired by incoming industry and "tremendous growth along the I-85 corridor," he argued that the planned developments centralize communities and cut down on the shopping commute to strip malls and sprawling retail properties.