South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Rural Landowners Appeal Greenville County’s Approval of Subdivision in Blue Ridge
Posted: June 1, 2020

For immediate release

An appeal of the recently approved “Oakvale” subdivision was filed in Circuit Court on Friday based on the project’s incompatibility with the area’s rural character and environment.

GREENVILLE, SC — Northern Greenville County Rural Landowners, a community group formed by rural residents of Blue Ridge, has taken legal action against the Greenville County Planning Commission and the developer of the proposed “Oakvale” subdivision, challenging the Commission’s recent approval of the subdivision it had previously rejected.

The appeal was filed Friday in Circuit Court on behalf of the landowners by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP), a non-profit public interest law firm.

The lawsuit represents the next major step in a continuing battle over land planning in the rural, unzoned parts of Greenville County. The appeal challenges the Planning Commission’s backing away from regulation of subdivisions in these areas, including the Planning Commission’s failure to consider Article 3.1 of the Land Development Regulations or the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

According to the appeal, Article 3.1 is written to prevent high density subdivisions in the rural landscape, but the County has made the conscious and explicit decision that this law, while still on the books, can’t be applied in the unzoned sections of the County. Article 3.1, as written, requires that all proposed subdivisions in the County must be consistent with surrounding land use density and with the surrounding environment.

Oakvale was initially proposed as a 30-lot, 18-acre subdivision, and it was rejected by the Planning Commission in February after extensive discussion of Article 3.1, density, and the limitations of Planning Commission authority. Subsequently, controversy over Article 3.1 swirled, and a special executive session meeting of Planning Commission was conducted. When Oakvale came back before the Planning Commission in April with a new design covering more land with more houses, Article 3.1 and density was not part of the discussion.

“Greenville County has an ordinance stating unequivocally that all subdivisions must be consistent with surrounding land use density. The County, though, has basically stated outright that it won’t apply that ordinance. Rural subdivisions are effectively unregulated right now, and the threat to rural quality of life is immediate and significant,” said SCELP Upstate Director Michael Corley.

This appeal requests the Circuit Court to issue an order reversing the decision of the Greenville County Planning Commission to approve Oakvale, and for further relief that the Court finds just and appropriate.

You can download a copy of the appeal here. For more on SCELP's work to protect Upstate rural lands, click here.

Media contact:
Michael Corley, Esquire
Upstate Director
South Carolina Environmental Law Project
[email protected]
(864) 412-7921

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project protects the natural environment of South Carolina by providing legal services and advice to environmental organizations and concerned citizens and by improving the state’s system of environmental regulation.