Neighbors react to moratorium on new subdivisions in Laurens Co.
Goal is to approve new subdivision ordinance within 2-month moratorium
LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Neighbors from the northern end of Laurens County have been regularly attending county council and planning commission meetings to voice concerns about the proliferation of new residential subdivisions in the area.
After months of repeatedly expressing concerns about the potential impact on the roads, environment, school system and livelihoods, these concerned citizens were pleasantly surprised Tuesday night.
The Laurens County Council passed two-month, county-wide moratorium on applications for new major subdivisions, which applies to proposals with 10 or more houses.
“I honestly did not see this coming,” Susan Stewart told FOX Carolina. “They’re taking us seriously and I think they are realizing that we’ve got to work in the area of community concern and in the best interest of our community.”
Councilman Kemp Younts made the motion for the moratorium after hearing from four citizens who spoke during public comments. He said the problem is compounded by the absence of zoning laws in Laurens County.
“Everything is moving too fast,” Younts said. “We’re not against the growth, but it’s got to be controlled.”
Councilman Jeffrey Carroll seconded the motion, and the measure passed with six votes and one abstention. Councilman David Tribble said he abstained from voting because he wasn’t sure how a moratorium would affect plans for subdivisions in his part of the county.
“There are almost 700 square miles in Laurens County,” Tribble said. “It’s not all the same - in terms of what the issues are.”
Younts said the goal is to pass a new ordinance for residential subdivisions before the moratorium deadline. The ordinance would increase the mandatory minimum size of subdivision lots from 8,000 square feet to 21,000 square feet.
Ashley Riddle said the ordinance would decrease the population density of the area.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of houses that are being built on roads that we don’t have the infrastructure for,” Riddle said. “The lots will be bigger and we’ll have fewer neighbors.”
During public comments, neighbors complained about signs that were recently posted by Laurens County to notify them about a proposed residential subdivision along Hunts Bridge Road.
“Even if you’re doing the speed limit at 45 miles an hour, it’s just a blur,” Joey Garrett. “There needs to be some bigger signs.”
Garrett is a Fountain Inn City Councilmember who grew up in a house across the street from the proposed subdivision Hunts Bridge Road, where a developer has submitted a proposal to build up to 150 new homes.
Garrett said his primary concern about rapid growth is the imact on the roads.
“It’s tore up from top to bottom,” Garrett told FOX Carolina News. “You’re putting another 253 vehicles on this road that can’t take it.”
During the council meeting, Garrett informed the council about a burial site which did not appear to be addressed in the developer’s proposal.
“We used to play on this property growing up,” Garrett told FOX Carolina. “I know there’s at least six or seven gravesites up there.”
FOX Carolina tried reaching the developer but did not hear back.
Laurens County faces multiple lawsuits from both sides of the development issue.
Hunts Bridge Holdings, LLC, has filed a lawsuit against the Laurens County Planning Commission after it failed to approve the developer’s application to build a residential subdivision on Hunts Bridge and Durbin roads. The lawsuit alleges that the proposal met all requirements and the commission did not explain its reason for denying the application.
Garrison Arena, LLC has filed a lawsuit against Laurens County, Jon Caime (former Laurens County administrator), the Laurens County Planning Commission, Sylvester Grant (former planning commissioner), Bluewater Civil Design, LLC, Mark III Properties, LLC, the Springs Land Holdings, LLC and John Beeson, Trustee. Garrison Arena operates a horse training arena and maintains cattle. The lawsuit alleges that logging on the property being developed damaged a fence, which caused cattle to escape and disrupted the horse training operation. The lawsuit also accuses the developers of violating setback requirements and failing to conduct sufficient traffic studies. It accuses the county of failing to properly notify residents about the proposed development and give them adequate time to respond before approving the plans.
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