An applicant, Tracey Holtzclaw, Trustee of “Townes Street Land Trust” recently received approval from the City of Greenville Planning Commission for a 10-lot subdivision on a little over 2 acres of land on the East side of Townes Street between W. Hillcrest Drive and W. Mountainview Avenue. The “Trust” group appears to be comprised of Tate Putnam, the current owner of the property, and Tracey Holtzclaw, who live next to each other on W. Mountainview, Jason Dillard, a co-broker with Holtzclaw in a business called “We Buy Houses” and North Main Building & Design, LLC. (principal Joey Stronkowsky). The engineering firm designing the project layout is Site Design, Inc. (engineer in charge, Craig Winnall).
The Planning Commission approved the application by a 5 to 2 vote over the objections of and evidence presented by over a dozen of the neighboring homeowners. The plan contemplates running a new road off of Townes Street by merging and moving a currently unopened alley that borders the backs of the homes on W. Mountainview. Those homes would no longer border the alley. The new street would end in a cul-de-sac adjacent to a 2 acre tract at 10 W. Mountainview being developed for only 5 homes by Highland Homes. The plan also proposes a long, narrow detention pond uphill from and along the back yards of six existing homes on W. Mountainview. Finally, the 10 lots are all along one side of the proposed street and would range in size from approximately 0.14 acres (Just over 6,000 sq. ft.) to 0.165 acres (just over 7,180 sq. ft.). By comparison, almost of all of the adjacent lots on W. Hillcrest and W. Mountainview are much larger, up to 0.67 acres.
The concerns of the neighbors, which we believe is unanimous except for Tate Putnam and Tracey Holtzclaw who are part of the development group, are primarily two-fold:
First, there seems to be little, if anything, preventing the developers from building “McMansions” on “postage-stamp” lots. The proposed new lots are all smaller than all of the existing surrounding lots. Tax records and building permit records indicate that North Main Building & Design built a 4,500 square foot house on a 0.18 acre lot on W. Montclair (see photo on right) just a couple of blocks away that dwarfs a neighboring blue cottage on one side and a neighboring white cottage on the other. There is nothing in the plans (or, to our knowledge the City Code if the City grants what is called an “administrative variance”) to prevent the developers from putting 10 such houses on the 10 proposed new lots. This is totally inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhood. One of the largest neighboring houses is at 23 W. Hillcrest and has a “footprint” of approximately 2,000 square feet (the house will total over 3,000 square feet if the second floor is finished), but it is on a lot that is over 0.4 acres. A row of ten 4,000 to 5,000 or more square foot homes between W. Hillcrest and W. Mountainview would look almost like the condominiums at The Edge below Croft Street between N. Main and Townes.
Second, the downhill neighbors on W. Mountainview are particularly worried about the proposed detention pond, which is about 12’ wide and runs along the back of six existing developed lots on W. Mountainview. Highland Homes is developing 5 lots (each larger than 0.4 acres by the way) immediately adjacent to the East end of this proposed development. If both projects are completed as currently planned, there will be two cul-de-sacs right next to each other, separated by only a few feet, and two detention ponds separated from each other by only a few more feet.
We (the neighboring home owners) are not against all development. We’re just worried about bad development. Good development fits in with the existing neighborhood and enhances it. It appears that Highland Homes developments on W. Mountainview and Buist will be good development. Bad development detracts from the neighborhood, plundering it for the financial benefit of the developers without regard to the quality of life of the neighborhood. We don’t know which one the proposed houses will be, and we don’t have any assurances it won’t be what we believe is bad development. We do not mind looking at neighboring homes. In fact one of the most charming things about living in the North Main neighborhood is looking out your windows or across your backyard fence at your neighbors’ charming homes. We are concerned that if the development goes through, we won’t be looking across our backyard fences at homes and backyards that look like ours – we’ll be looking at 10 McMansions that are 10 feet apart with treeless backyards that look like The Edge. Unfortunately, neither the plan nor the City Planning Commission, nor the City Code protect us.