Proposed Development at Townes St.

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:

montclair houseFirst, 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.

Proposed Development at Townes St.
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11 thoughts on “Proposed Development at Townes St.

  • January 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    As a home owner in the North Main community, I am astonished at the negativity of the upcoming development at Cottage at Townes. I am so pleased that this developer and builder care enough our neighborhood to better it, increase property value and clean up our streets. The city of Greenville will also benefit from this project with the property taxes that will be collected.
    Also, the “monstrosity” of a home on W. Montclair that some of you keep referring to is the prime reason I purchased my home on W. Montclair. This extraordinary, beautiful, well built home reinforced my decision of buying on this street. I knew whatever money I put into my home would be justified since this house improved the value of my home. I love driving down Montclair and seeing such a gorgeous home at 16 W. Montclair. I wish others in our community would care enough about fixing their homes and cleaning up their yards too. I hope that those sending these letters stop and think about the fact that we live in a neighborhood with no covenants or restrictions and this new neighborhood will increase the value of all of our homes in the area. Have any of you stopped to think about the unkind and un-neighborly words that have been said towards the home on 16 W. Montclair. Plastering their home on flyers and on this website is no way to treat and welcome any neighbor!
    I fondly welcome Cottages at Townes and look forward in seeing some of our streets cleaned and beautified.

  • January 28, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I also think that the house at 16 W. Montclair is stunning. I am a manager at Michelin and have been finishing a 2 year contract for the company. I was supposed to return to my apartment in Paris at the end of 2012. By coincidence I happened to be visiting a friend who lives near 16 W. Montclair. In a moment my life changed. I knew I could not leave Greenville and that I too must buy a house in this neighberhood. I am hoping that the same beautiful mix of Craftsmen, Colonial, Georgian, Victorian, Charleston homes will soon be built at the Cottages at Townes. I will meet with the designer and land owner to see if it will be possible to build my version of a Beaux Arts 6 story apartment. I am so happy that my vision can be created without any of those pesky Euro-socialist covenants and restrictions. Having lived in a big city I am also excited that there will be no yard or trees to worry about, afterall there are too many allergens in Greenville. If we try hard we can get rid all of the Green from the Ville and put it into our wallets.

    Vive La Greenville, and long live the maximization of profits above anything or anyone.

  • January 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Ah, I see we have the comments from those who would change the North Main neighborhood to one of the modern tract home versions of neighborhoods. North Main is a neighborhood of trees and grass. It is a more country type neighborhood than it seems these two commentors want. If they truely want to live in a neighborhood without trees, why do they not move to a neighborhood without trees. It is a shame that people move into neighborhoods and try to change the neighborhood to suit them rather than adapt to the neighborhood. It reminds me of the people that move from one country to another because of the opportunity available in that country. After they move they try to change bring their previous country’s culture to the new country. In doing so they, make the new country the same as that they are trying to escape from.

    What a shame to destroy our neighborhood.

  • January 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    “Having lived in a big city I am also excited that there will be no yard or trees to worry about, afterall there are too many allergens in Greenville. If we try hard we can get rid all of the Green from the Ville and put it into our wallets.” Really? Who in their right mind would make a comment like this unless you are related to or very good friends of the builder? In 2012 who wants to get rid of all the tree’s in an urban area? Trees are what makes Greenville! Had you rather have more oxygen or less allergens?

    Magazines that keep rating Greenvile in the top ten list for one reason or the other specifically site the beautiful trees in Greenville’s downtown area!

  • January 30, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Dear John and Hunter: I am sure that if you re-read Jacques’s response to Smith’s original post, you will notice the sarcasm.

    Our current laws and zoning do nothing to protect our community from such ill-conceived and venal projects as the so the called Cottage at Townes. In such cases, satire — without being too snarky — can be an effective tool.

    Unfortunately, the amateur developer behind this project is following the letter but not the spirit of our zoning laws or Greenville’s Comp Plan. The neighborhood’s best bet is to use all means – including satire — but more importantly, respectfully addressing the city council and mayor to influence the outcome of this flawed project.

  • January 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I found great humor in both the first and second comments 🙂 I don’t think the first one was meant to be funny but the sarcasm in the second one was truly appreciated!

  • February 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Thank goodness. I felt that it was sarcastic, but just wasn’t sure and had to reply. I thought for sure no one good be that ignorant, lol.

  • February 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    This borders on ridiculous. A bunch of upset neighbors who have been enjoying a large wooded backyard for years and years FREE OF CHARGE. No tax payments, no maintenance costs, no costs of ownership, no responsibility. In all the years, NO ONE has ever contacted the current owner to inquire about the potential purchase of the property adjacent to their backyards. NO ONE EVER. Now, the Owner, Tate Putnam has exercised his RIGHT to SELL this property that he owns free and clear and is met with bashing, slander, and a ton of misinformation.
    Tate is the Owner. Period. He is selling his property. He is NOT a part of the land trust. He is not a part of the development team. He is the SELLER. That is all.

    The property was entered into the Greenville Multiple Listing Service for sale. Anyone had the right to purchase it. A neighbor (Jimmy) informed Tracey Holtzclaw about the “for sale” status of the property. Tracey immediately got his group together and formed the Land Trust and put in an offer to purchase the property. The offer was accepted and the resulting mayhem has ensued. All negotiations were done through a licensed REAL ESTATE AGENT. This was not a “handshake” deal between two scheming neighbors.
    This land is individually platted. It was scheduled for development early in the development of Greenville. Who knows what happened. The war, the Depression, a general economic slowdown? We could spend tons of time researching that question and still have no answers. The point is, this land is able to be developed. No amount of whining, cajoling, or complaining can stop that. Greenville is a hilly town. The City Engineers realize this. The Land Trust team realizes this. You CAN build on a slope. It’s done all the time. With the correct grading and retention areas, this is not a problem at all. It’s a moot point.
    The development goes back to Greenville Planning on March 14th. Why? Because changes have been made to the original plan. Changes for the better. The road will no longer be a cul-de-sac. It will connect in with the Highland Homes development at the top of W. Mountainview. The drainage retention pond and sewer will be served by the Highland development. They will be connected. The need for the sewer easement between the neighbors yards goes away. The two developers are working together to make this a harmonious development. The street will be at the top of the development, eliminating the need for the Hillcrest alley to be abandoned, because it will be improved with a road at the City’s discretion. That’s the update… those are the facts. Be careful who you slander. Check your facts before you continue to publish misinformation.

  • February 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I disagree with “a concerned citizen” on a few points. The concerns of the neighbors do not border on ridiculous at all. I think that the reactions of the community are very much understandable. That does not mean I agree with everything that has been said, simply that it is completely understandable why people that live next door to this proposed development are concerned. There will be a lot of noise, dirt and disruption and most importantly the uncertainty over what will get built and what affect it will have on one’s home (likely someone’s largest investment). It is both unfair and untrue to say that people are simply whining.
    I think We Buy Houses bears the primary responsibility for the reactions of the neighbors. The developer enters the equation with a desire to make change for the purpose of profit. They have a good idea of the amount of money that they will spend and earn (provided their assumptions are correct) and they have the prospect of making a cash benefit from whatever is built. The existing homeowners have none of that, nor do they seem to have any control over what gets built. Why is it that Highland Homes has an easier time in roughly the same location with many of the same neighbors? I think it is because Highland Homes had a vision, communicated it, and has earned the trust of the community. We Buy Houses have neither the track record nor have they earned the people’s trust. They seem to think that somehow everyone should just trust them to “do the right thing” and, as they put it, trust them to “be a good neighbor”. As soon as they bumped into resistance, and people did not accept their poor presentation of what they planned to build, they took it personally and acted even more unprofessionally.
    I imagine there are those who read this and say that this is private property and private property rights endow the developer with the right to do whatever they want within the strict letter of the law. Perhaps they are right. But if the developer is simply going to rely on the strict letter of what is allowed, and they are not going to be sympathetic to the fears of their neighbors and not do the hard work of earning trust, then they are not permitted to act hurt when people call them out for simply mining the land for maximum profit. They also should not be surprised that people will fight them tooth and nail with whatever they can to influence the project.
    On the bright side, the concerns of the neighbors seem to be producing some results. Rather than having two cul-de-sacs, there is now the possibility of just one through street. With any luck maybe the Putnams can deal directly with Xeno Hawkins. If all else fails perhaps the neighbors can come together and buy the land for a fair price.

  • February 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Dear Concerned Citizen.
    I tend to take anonomous comments with a grain of salt because if the person does not leave their name, it ususlly means they have no credibility or courage of conviction.

    Yes it is private property and Mr Putnam and Mr. Holtzclaw (ie North Main Design and Building) can do whatever is in the law. However, my question still stands. “Would you like a street in front of your home and one on your back fence as well?” I don’t. And the last plan I saw still had a cul-de-sac on the north border and not on the border of the seller or purchaser of the property. Good for them, bad for me.

    Next time list your name. Please. We’d like to know who is for this project or we’ll just have to assume it was the owner of North Main Design and Building who wrote it.

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