City scraps standards proposal

Construction projects receiving tax money dodge special restrictions

Bowing to pressure from community business leaders, the Greenwood City Council scrapped a proposal to require private projects that receive financial assistance from the city to follow specific construction standards but promised to eventually take another look at the issue.

The proposal would have required any private project receiving financial assistance from the city to meet the construction standards required for commercial buildings along State Road 135. Those standards include specifications on the types of construction materials to be used, restrictions on signage and requirements for landscaping.

At its second April meeting, the council had given its initial approval to the new restrictions over objections from Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers in a 7-2 vote. Members Chuck Landon and Linda Gibson voted against the proposal.

The proposal initially came from concerns that the mayor had bypassed the council’s ability to place construction standards on projects that receive financial assistance from the city. Myers had withdrawn a tax break request for an ice-rink complex planned for Freedom Park after the council had attached similar construction standards to that tax break. Myers said the cost of adhering to the construction standards outweighed the benefits of the tax break for the developer.

These new restrictions would have applied to the Greenwood Iceplex had it received any financial assistance from the council or another city board.

In the two weeks after that meeting, the proposal was met with resistance from the mayor, other city board presidents and business leaders who said the plan would hamper new businesses by putting in place unnecessary and cost-prohibitive requirements.

Greenwood Chamber of Commerce President Christian Maslowski met with council members to discuss what he described as the unintended consequences of the proposal.

“It creates a development standard that isn’t practical or affordable,” he said.

Greenwood Redevelopment Commission President Brent Tilson and Greenwood Development Commission President Stephen Spencer co-authored an opinion piece that called the council’s plan one that would have negative consequences for Greenwood’s economy.

“If approved, this legislation will initiate an almost immediate downward spiral for development projects, essentially rendering the City of Greenwood an economic development dead zone,” they wrote.

The new rules were set for a second and final vote earlier this week. The decision to withdraw the proposed ordinance rather than put it to a second vote was made after having discussions with people in the business community, council president Mike Campbell said.

The proposal would have needed a full rewrite, he said.

Campbell said the council needs to take another look at construction standards, but do it in a way that won’t hamper businesses.

“We want to take a more comprehensive look,” he said. “If it comes back it will be way different.”

Council member David Hopper, who had initially proposed the new restrictions, declined to comment about the proposal being pulled without a final vote.

Myers said he was glad the council decided to not push ahead with plans for the new restrictions and that he is willing to meet with the council to discuss future plans for construction standards.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.