New affordable housing incentive program, controversy over storage unit and other city council updates

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 10:49 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Greenville city council is making strides to address the need for affordable housing options. With this new program, developers, the city and non-profits will all need to work together

Council approves affordable housing incentive pilot program

One of the challenges developers and the city says they’ve faced with creating more affordable housing is the high cost of land.

Under the program, if developers don’t want to create affordable housing within their projects they can donate money into an affordable housing fund. In exchange, they get incentives from the city such as relaxed zoning regulations or design flexibility. The city then uses the money collected to buy land. Then, they’ll offer the land to developers doing affordable projects.

“We’ve got several non-profit affordable home developers like genesis homes, homes of hope, united housing connections and what they will do is if it’s in an area of town where they are very good at building affordable housing, we will then donate that land to them” said Merle Johnson the Director of Economic and Community Development for the city.

They’re aiming to get both rental properties and affordable homes for purchase built. It’s just a pilot program—so this is the trial to see how well it works. The program will run over the next two years.

Controversy over Wade Hampton storage unit project continues

Last week we told you about a proposed mixed-use storage unit project on Wade Hampton Boulevard. Residents and members of the city council have been speaking out against the project.

But it was approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the council has little power to override that decision. Even though it wasn’t on the agenda at Monday night’s council meeting, a discussion started after a resident spoke out again.

This conversation first came to council earlier this month after the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted to approve the project. Several residents who live near Wade Hampton Boulevard spoke out against the project and some council members agreed.

It turned into a discussion about the role and operating procedures of the BZA members.

The project developer is a member of the BZA, he did sit out for the vote. At the last meeting, council members Deworken, Dowe, Flemming and Brassington raised concerns. John Deworken saying the project violates the neighborhood plan which said no more storage units. Councilwoman Dorothy Dowe agreed with that and said there was enough reason for the board to deny the project.

Monday night, members of the BZA responded. One member said it was extremely disheartening to hear the council question the motives of their board.

“In doing so you call into question the very nature and foundation of public servants that we volunteer to be. The rhetoric from this council does not only harm the future trust the public has in our board but it’ll discourage and disway future applicants from stepping forward to volunteer for public service” said Seph Wunder, the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

After the fact, the council did assure BZA members they support and appreciate their work.

Deworken—who represents the area—and the residents tell us he’s also looking at ways to prevent this storage unit and others from being put that area of Wade Hampton.