A 42-unit apartment complex to be known as Parkside at Main received approval for construction in January 2018. According to the City of Simpsonville’s Community Relations Specialist, Justin Campbell, “The program behind the project is the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority’s Housing Tax Credit Program. As for qualifications for the program and the demographics of tenants considered for housing, that’s the purview of the Authority.” Simpsonville’s board of zoning and appeals granted a special exemption to construct these multi-family dwelling apartments in an area zoned for business general. The current zoning classification for this property does not permit multifamily structures.
Businesses and residents bordering this property were surprised to find out that the land clearing that started early this spring was in fact going to be apartments. The property borders several businesses and residences along Main Street and backs up to Chancellor’s Park and Powderhorn. Several homeowners and business owners began commenting on neighborhood Facebook pages as word spread about the project.
It appears the project was approved without much effort to advertise exactly what was going to be put there to give the neighboring citizens a chance to attend the hearing. According to board of zoning appeals records, the special exemption was granted in January 18, 2018. This report was received from the Planning Director Jason Knudson but he failed to post the original agenda online. With normal procedure, a sign would have been placed on the property and an advertisement would have been placed in the paper. This may have been done but, if the ad in the paper was as non-descriptive as the agenda, it would be impossible to understand the details of the exemption.
Docket Number: SE-2018-02
Applicant: Parkside at Main, LP
Location: 601 Southeast Main Street
Request: Special Exception for Mutli-Family in B-G
Variance from 2.8.3 of the Simpsonville Zoning Ordinance.
Citizen’s Facebook comments inferred that they never saw a sign and that the advertisement, and the agenda details were probably not as informative as it could have been.
Needless to say, the project was apparently a complete surprise to many in the city.
Shortly after land clearing began on the property an article appeared in a Greenville newspaper entitled, 5 New Business Developments on the way in Simpsonville. The article was apparently celebrating the city’s continuing growth and development. The following new construction was listed in the article:
- New headquarters for toy company on Southeast Main Street fronting Chancellor’s Park
- Clemson Eye is moving from its Simpsonville office on Northeast Main Street to a new, larger building on Harrison Bridge Road.
- Waves Express Car Wash’s third location is planned near the corner of Fairview Road and Southeast Main Street in Simpsonville.
- Kinder Care Learning Centers is planning to open a location on West Georgia Road
- “Burdette Central” A major mixed-use development is planned at the Burdette Building, breathing new life into the prominent site at the corner of Curtis and Main streets.
The details of these construction projects are normally gathered by reporters from city officials in order to keep the public informed about the progress of our city. We can only wonder why a sixth project was not listed with this celebratory article. The description of the apartment complex along with the special exemption required to have it approved and the details of how this public housing project would be administered should have been included.
Many of the comments from citizens are insinuating that although the city did nothing wrong legally in approving this special exemption but did very little to explain the project to the neighbors and businesses impacted by this zoning approval. We should expect more from our elected and appointed city officials with regard to keeping the public informed. Former Council and Mayor pro-tem Geneva Lawrence, added, “this is the type of project that citizens need to be made aware of. It should be insured that any special exception to our ordinances are made public and advertised in detail.”
Sadly, the bottom line is that this project is going to happen and there is nothing anyone can do about it now. The only hope for the future is that the citizens can trust their elected and appointed officials to inform citizens of issues that will directly impact their lives.
Three council members and the mayor are up for re-election. Citizens need to pay attention to this issue and learn from it. We need representation that represents us.