Rezoning Rural


Mattie McConnell

Signs like the one pictured above are often the only warning residents get before property is sold and rezoned (Photo courtesy of Mattie McConnell, Photo Art courtesy of Alexander Gray)

It’s no secret that Greenville County is changing, but is it all good? Many people living in South Carolina’s more rural areas, such as Piedmont, think it’s not.

Within the last two years, at least five pieces of property that were once farmland have been sold and rezoned to be developed into subdivisions. Another large piece of land in Piedmont along Augusta Road was recently rezoned from rural residential to a business district. A rezoning hearing was recently held on February 27th, 2019, where residents from the south Greenville area voiced their concerns. 

“[I] love living in the country,” said one resident at the hearing, who has been living in the area for nearly 30 years. “[I am] good with growth, just not in rural areas.” 

Other comments from residents include concerns of trash, pollution, overcrowding, and deforestation. However, developments such as subdivisions and manufacturers have some benefits. 

“With the growth of this particular area, the low tax rate, [and] the job opportunities…people want to move to Greenville,” said Brashier Biology teacher Brett Fleming.

It’s true that Greenville has become a very popular place to visit and many people are moving here, densifying populations. In fact, many travel and real estate websites have named Greenville in their top lists of the best places to live. With county populations increasing, opportunity for developers is also increasing, allowing them to make a profit, but at what cost? 

“It’s hard to call Greenville ‘Greenville’ anymore,” Fleming added, accurately summarizing the county’s deforestation issue. 

Additionally, these developments are popping up without many promising community changes including sewage and water line improvements, road repairs, and school expansions. Many properties are also still using wells as their water sources, and are not connected to any large sewer systems, such as Greenville Water and ReWa. 

“We [in the area] are planning on [constructing] 5,000-6,000 houses over the next few years, but we’ve had no infrastructure change in about 15 years,” said Tom McConnell, owner of 13 acres and resident of the area for nearly 50 years. “That part is putting a strain on the schools and the roads,” he added. 

Many people still look to move to these more rural areas, longing for a more “country” way of living. Unfortunately, the more people that move into these areas, the less rural they become.