Growth and Development

Across the board, the upstate has grown significantly, and there are no signs that demand to live in the county or start and operate a business in Greenville is going to subside anytime soon.

Twenty years ago, the city of Greenville’s population was approximately 56,000, with about 24,000 households. Today, the population is almost 71,000, with roughly 30,000 households. Essentially, the city gained around six new households every week from 2000 to 2020.  With this kind of growth, the demand for housing increases, the need for public and private services increases and the wear and tear on a city’s infrastructure increases. The challenge is how to accommodate growth in an environmentally sustainable way that makes the local economy stronger and preserves residents’ quality of life. 

Growth can occur in many forms, including greenfield development and infill development. Greenfield development occurs on land not previously developed, such as farmland, a forest or a meadow. Most of the growth that occurs in the areas of Greenville County outside the city over the next 50 years will be greenfield development. 

Infill development occurs between existing structures and includes adapting existing buildings for something new. Nearly all growth in the city over the next 50 years will be infill development. In other words, unless the City annexes a great deal of land outside its current boundaries, growth will be accommodated by larger buildings replacing smaller ones and by new buildings filling in where open spaces now exist between structures.

It is this last point that makes GVL2040, the City’s recently adopted comprehensive plan, and the City’s zoning code something every Greenville resident should pay attention to. GVL2040 serves as the City’s general plan, articulating the core values and planning principles that the Greenville community said it wants to serve as the basis for how growth over the next 20 years is handled. By prioritizing open space and the environment, affordable housing opportunities, economic development and transportation and mobility, GVL2040 provides a blueprint for going forward.

But GVL2040 does not regulate development. The City’s zoning (or development) code provides the regulations, and for the code to be both lawful and effective, it must align with GVL2040. The City’s current zoning is obsolete and must be replaced with a new code that is consistent with GVL2040.

How will the new code impact you? To answer this question, consider this - how has development already affected you and how will additional development affect you if the current code is not replaced?

Zoning is the tool a city uses to achieve a balance between the positive and negative aspects of growth and the imperative to preserve what made the city great in the first place. This balance between the new and what it will look like, and the existing and what the community doesn’t want to be changed can only be achieved with a code that regulates growth without rendering development infeasible or undermining Greenville’s character.

Everyone in Greenville, from business and home owners to renters and commuting employees, will be affected by GVL2040 and the new development code, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022. As a result, everyone in Greenville is a stakeholder and everyone should be a part of shaping the city’s future.