South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Greenville County Rural Land

Perhaps more than anywhere else in the state, suburban sprawl into rural and agricultural lands is plaguing Greenville County, not just in terms of environmental quality but also in terms of overall quality of life. We worked for months with citizens groups in the southern and northern parts of the County, and we are now in court on their behalf.

In a unprecedented move to curb bad development, Greenville County recently amended its Land Development Regulations in order to allow rejection of subdivisions that are not "compatible with the surrounding land use density" or the site's environmental conditions. Accordingly, the planning commission rejected several new subdivisions proposed in rural areas. Unsurprisingly, the developers are screaming bloody murder and, in the case of a project in northern Greenville County, have sued the planning commission. This litigation threatens not only to disfigure the affected rural tract, but also to eviscerate the new land planning regulation and the County’s power to protect rural lands in general.

Ethan Richard Estates envisions 31 homes on a 23 acre property along Tigerville Road in an unincorporated part of the County. In stark contrast, the adjoining properties are 10 and 14 acres each, both with a single residence and mixed agricultural use. The existing property density and usage are typical of the area, and community opposition to this aberrant subdivision has been strong and persistent. Appropriate land use regulation is a critical tool for environmental protection, and our local government must be empowered to use it for the greater good.

We have intervened in that appeal on behalf of neighbors, and the matter remains pending before the Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, a new subdivision called Crestfield Farm has been proposed in a rural part of Greenville County where many surrounding properties have been acquired for conservation of extraordinarily rare plant life. SCELP is representing the community before the Planning Commission, and we believe the outcome of this case holds the fate of the rural subdivision ordinance in the balance.

In early January 2020, the applicant withdrew its Crestfield Farms proposal.

SCELP celebrates this win and will continue fighting for the quality of life supported by the health and stewardship of our rural lands.

Case Update

In February 2020, the Greenville County planning commission green-lit the Oakvale subdivision in the Blue Ridge area, a decision that not only defies the county's sensible land development regulations, it sets a dangerous precedent for the Upstate's rural lands, which face increasing encroachment. In response to this faulty decision, on May 29, 2020, we filed an appeal to Circuit Court. You can download a copy of the appeal below.

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