As Greenwood continues to develop in coming decades, officials have their eye on how they envision the city looking in the future.
In the next several years, the city plans to do a complete overhaul of its zoning code, which are the rules that guide what types of development can take place and how buildings should be constructed. That could include examining density rules for neighborhoods so that clusters of new homes don’t result in too many additional drivers on already crowded streets, creating a plan for how the downtown area should look once the former middle school is torn down and redeveloped, and restrictions on where certain types of businesses, such as big-box stores, can be placed.
As part of its 2018 budget, Greenwood set aside $150,000 to hire a consultant to spend two years re-writing the city’s zoning and subdivision codes. The city has requested proposals from consultants, with the aim of selecting one for the project early in 2018.
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The last total re-write of the city’s zoning code took place in 1982. Though no full reviews have been done since, the Greenwood City Council has approved more than 50 changes, Greenwood Planning Director Bill Peeples said.
When the city first creating zoning districts in 1952, every property in the less than one-square mile city was identified as residential, commercial or industrial. When the rules were revised in 1969, the city increased the number of categories to 10, with another jump to 17 in 1982, Peeples said.
Once this new overhaul is complete, the city could end up with additional zoning districts, which would help to further regulate where development could take place and create specific restrictions for certain types of businesses, he said.
For example, city officials could restrict the construction of large retail stores to one type of zoning district, meaning that any time a big box store wants to open, the city council would need to approve the land being rezoned for that use.
Another option could be districts set up specifically for car dealerships and used car lots, which would allow those types of businesses to not be impacted by rules that could be put into place to restrict the amount of merchandise set up for sale outdoors at gas stations and retailers, Peeples said.
When the former Greenwood Middle School property is developed, city officials envision the area being used for everything from restaurants, apartments, office spaces and stores, but city zoning rules don’t currently have any options that would easily allow all of that development to take on same or adjacent properties, he said.
By moving from zoning rules that separate properties primarily by how they are used to rules that are more concerned with how buildings will look and if they will mesh well with surrounding structures, the city will be able to more easily develop the area, Peeples said.
City officials may also look at the impact development has on already busy streets. One area of concern is the section of Averitt Road where it intersects with Stop 18 Road and Cutsinger Road. With several new neighborhoods being built in recent years and more planned, traffic along those roads and at both intersections, which are four-way-stops, can be frustrating at times for drivers.
As more homes continue to be built in the city, some options to make sure certain areas don’t become congested would be to limit the amount of homes that can be built per acre or to put more requirements on the infrastructure improvements developers are required to make when starting a new neighborhood, said Trent Pohlar, the president of the Greenwood Advisory Plan Commission.
As the project to overhaul the city’s zoning rules moves forward, residents will have many opportunities to provide input and feedback, Peeples said.
The goal is for the new rules to be ready to be approved by the city council in two years, but the process could take longer, Peeples said.