Georgetown County planners to consider Flexible Design District

  • Saturday, February 1, 2014

Georgetown County planning officials are considering a Zoning Ordinance change that would offer developers an alternative to the current Planned Development option.

Called the Flexible Design District, it would allow developers to create a large development with one use, such as commercial or residential, instead of mixed uses.

Boyd Johnson, planning director for Georgetown County, said he is hoping to present the idea for the Flexible Design District at the next Planning Commission meeting on Feb. 20.

Any recommendation from the Planning Commission would have to be approved by County Council.

Johnson said that since a 2010 S.C. Supreme Court ruling in a Charleston case defined a Planned Development (PD) as a mixed use development, planners and developers have been bound by that definition.

The case is G. Dana Sinkler and Anchorage Plantation Home Owners Association vs. Charleston County in 2010.

That decision states that “the essence of a PD under the Enabling Act is that the property will provide for mixed use.”

“The Flexible Design District would be the same type of district as a PD, but it would be single use,” Johnson said.

He added that it would also provide for low impact development, incorporating environmental directives such as stormwater systems, concern for trees and buffer zones.

It would also have a minimum acreage requirement and would meet all the requirements of overlay zones.

Other coastal counties

Charleston County to our south and Horry County to our north, have also had to deal with this restriction for PDs.

Horry County planning director Janet Carter said they make sure all PDs are mixed use, in accordance with the 2010 Supreme Court decision.

She said they are not planning to add any new zoning districts.

“The Supreme Court left the door open for counties to be creative,” Carter said.

“But, if we are going to use the PD zoning, we have to use it this way.”

Charleston County’s director of zoning and planning Dan Pennick said after the Supreme Court decision in 2010, they amended the definition of a PD for Charleston County.

“We used to use the state definition and the Supreme Court didn’t think we abided by that definition of a PD,” Pennick said.

“So, we amended our definition so it didn’t have to include all the different types of uses.”

Pennick said the intent of a Planned Development is to be innovative and to allow for something beneficial to the community.

“Our definition allows flexibility for single or mixed use

and allows more innovative sight planning,” he said.

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