TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — The developers of a proposed 17-unit townhouse community along N. Main Street and the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Travelers Rest say that many of the concerns raised in a petition opposing the project are unfounded.
Longtime local residents Will McCauley and Walt Brashier III are requesting that 1.27 acres located at 508 N. Main St. (map below) be rezoned to "flexible review district" for the development of Trailside Towns. The request was recommended for approval by the Travelers Rest Planning Commission and passed the first of two city council votes in September. The second and final vote is scheduled to take place at the city's Oct. 17 council meeting.
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The development is proposed to consist of 2- and 3-bedroom units, ranging from 1200-1400 square feet. The footprint of each unit will be approximately 20 feet wide and 42 feet or less deep.
If approved, McCauley and Brashier III would have the right to build the 17-units, but the project would be subject to final plan development approval, according to City Administrator Eric Vinson.
An online petition at Change.org seeks a "no" vote at the October meeting, hoping to send the project back to the planning commission for further review. The petition lists eight "main concerns of residents and people of the neighborhood," including notification, density, parking, traffic congestion, aging infrastructure, and increased property taxes, to name a few.
"We want to take into consideration area residents' concerns, but we have no way to verify where [the signers of the online petition] live," said Brashier III. "And since you can sign the petition multiple times, we have no way of knowing the true number of those that are in opposition. Actual signatures should be considered, and those voices should be heard."
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"Although the petition states that 'a majority of residents who have concerns were not aware of the proceedings', proper notification procedures were followed," said Brashier III, adding that on-site signage was posted for an extra month due to the cancellation of the July planning commission meeting.
Editor's note: In addition to the property signage required by law, an advertised public hearing was held in August, and city council proceedings are posted on the city's website and at city hall. The rezoning request first appeared on the Travelers Rest Tribune on Aug. 12, and the Sept. 19 council meeting agenda was published on Sept. 18.
A chief concern in the online petition is the project's proposed density, which equates to approximately 13.6 units per acre. According to Patrea St. John, city of Travelers Rest planning director, the Trailside Towns project is approximately the same density as other existing townhomes in the city.
"The proposed plan meets the city's single family attached and multifamily development standards and it follows the core values of smart growth and connectivity as outlined in the [city's] master plan," St. John said.
Addressing the need for additional parking, one of the points raised in the online petition, McCauley and Brashier III said they have submitted a revised plan with added parking, a move that would bring the total onsite parking to 44 spaces, or 2.6 spaces per townhome. (Editor's note: City zoning requires 2 off-street parking spaces per unit.)
McCauley and Brashier III also said:
— They will be installing a minimum "20-foot vegetative buffer" that is "above and beyond" what is required by the city. A final landscaping plan will need approval of the city;
— efforts that include curb and gutter will be in place to reduce on-street parking;
— the walkability of the project should decrease the number of trips per day;
— there exists no physical access to the adjacent side streets (ie. Cox Street and Tolar Road), resulting in little to no impact on those roads;
— Travelers Rest has stayed on top of infrastructure needs and its systems are some of the newer systems in the county (Editor's note: The Tribune reviewed civil engineer correspondence that states the sewer basin is "more than adequate to handle this project") ; and
— the "typical market" for townhomes is "downsizers, retirees and young professionals", many of whom do not have children, resulting in "less impact on school and rush hour traffic".
As for increased property taxes if Trailside Towns is approved, city officials said the project will not be complete before the next Greenville County tax assessment in 2020.
"This project would not be factored into any reassessment until 2025, which by then there will be multiple elements that will be part of that equation," St. John said, adding that "the project will not decrease the amount of affordable housing and is not displacing anyone."
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McCauley and Brashier III said that the homes are designed to blend into the existing community through "architectural, civil, and landscape design methods" and that elevations will be stepped when possible to add to streetscape appeal and blend into the natural topography.
"We're excited about the project and think it meets a need in downtown Travelers Rest of a missing middle, walkable product that is going to support the local businesses and restaurants, building on what Travelers Rest has already done," Brasier III said.
To view the conceptual layout of the proposed development, click here.
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