Impact zoning has on growth and development

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 11:03 PM EDT
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EASLEY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - With rapid growth across the Upstate, many city and county councils are tasked with deciding the future landscape of their towns.

One of the most impactful ways governments can manage growth and development is through zoning.

“Cities are constantly aware of what works, what doesn’t work, and how to make it fit within their neighborhoods and communities and residents, and so they’re constantly making these adjustments,” said Clemson University Program Director for the City and Regional Planning Masters’ Program Dr. John Gaber.

Gaber calls zoning a “police power,” which he says is implemented for a community’s health, well-being, and safety.

“A really big giant nuclear facility next to a daycare would be considered an incongruent land use,” he explains. “So zoning performs a very important health, safety issue for all residents.”

Zoning is how local governments control what is allowed to be built and where.

Basic zoning breaks down into three groups, residential, commercial, and industrial. Then comes density and what’s allowed in that zoned land.

“People usually have a piece of property and they want to get the highest use out of that property. Now as a city, we have to look at it and say does this make sense for the neighborhood,” said City of Easley Planner Mario DiPietro.

In Easley, elected and city officials are working on updating their zoning ordinance for the first time since 2015. It’s something DiPietro says the city does every few years.

“While the book is written for development, sometimes you look at it and say, does this make sense? Does the density make sense? And it’s all about the density,” he said.

Depending on the market, zoning can slow down or speed up development.

Gaber says that while each community will tackle the issue differently, each knows what their neighbors are doing and should keep an eye on the future.

“All the cities have their own particular what I would call cocktail for economic growth. So what’s happening in Easley is going to be different from Greenville, which will be different from Greer,” he said.