My Comments on the Stenhouse Rd. Annexation and Rezoning.

  1. At the Committee of the Whole meeting, I expressed concerns regarding traffic and safety in this area that might be exacerbated by this development. While a traffic and safety solution is further in the future than we would like, it is on the horizon, with SCDOT saying the worst case scenario is work would begin in mid-2024 to widen the road and improve 3 intersections. We had hoped that would happen sooner, especially since we worked with the Country Transportation Committee on a funding match for the federal grant being used to fund the project. But SCDOT has lumped this project in to other plans for West Georgia Rd, which has delayed it. However, the project IS fully funded to the tune of $3 million, and we have a participation agreement. Therefore, we can be fairly confident that the road improvements are forthcoming and will relive the traffic congestion and alleviate the safety concerns we have for that area.
  2. The other concern I had at the Committee of the Whole remains: if we deny this annexation and rezoning, the developer can turn around and ask the County for a rezoning and build the development anyway. We’ve watched it happen before. And recently. See: Baldwin Ridge, which we denied because we were concerned about traffic on Baldwin Rd. Well, the traffic is there, and it’s actually worse off because the County doesn’t have the same high standards we do. It doesn’t affect them as much as it does us. So they’ll approve higher densities that don’t conform to our design and space requirements. By annexing and rezoning the property ourselves, we maintain control over what goes there. We can choose to enter into a partnership with the developer to ensure that the development fits well into the fabric of the community. We can, and have, made requests regarding decreased density; contracting with a traffic engineer; including sidewalks and connectivity; aesthetics; design and community spaces; amenities that create and support community, something people will enjoy and take pride in. In short, we can and have made requests to help ensure that this development will be an asset rather than a detriment to the City of Simpsonville. I’m grateful that we have a developer willing to have those conversations and do that work, employing a local architect and local engineer and committing to a full-time staff to ensure that property is well cared for in the years to come.
  3. One concern I did not and still do not share was with renters. As I mentioned before, I have been a renter. And people move between homeownership and renting at various points in their lives for a variety of reasons. As a Council, we have a responsibility to ensure that we provide housing options for the wide variety of people who do or will call Simpsonville home at whatever stage of their life they’re in. Demand for housing is high as is demand for rental properties. In fact, I read one recent report that described a downward trend in rental vacancy rates, decreasing from approximately 40 percent in 2009 to just under 25 percent in 2019, reflecting the increasing demand for rental units. Another report I read projected the demand for rental housing will increase somewhere between 33% and 49% between now and 2025. It’s also a part of our job to look to the future and prepare for it.