Flexible Design District added to county zoning

  • Friday, July 11, 2014

Developers in Georgetown County now have a new option for rezoning property that previously fell under Planned Development (PD) zoning.

County Council passed third reading of an ordinance at its July 8 meeting to amend the county's Zoning Ordinance and create new zoning called Flexible Design District (FDD).

This new zoning will allow developers to create properties without strict mixed-use rules while addressing issues like affordable housing and enhancing the environment.

County Planning Director Boyd Johnson updated Council about this new zoning.

He stated that local governments throughout the state have approved single use PDs for many years.

Then in 2010, the Sinkler case was brought before the State Supreme Court that resulted in single use PDs being prohibited, according to a staff report. The reasoning of the Court was that PDs are defined as multi-use in the state legislation so local governments should be bound to only approve PDs that met the definition.

Many professional staff were not disappointed with the ruling since PDs often lacked any innovation or true

uniqueness, the report said.

“There are situations that are best addressed by a flexible district that may only be single use,” the report stated.

“The intention is to allow creative, single use developments that truly address the problems like affordable housing and/or enhance the environment.”

Johnson said that some changes were made to the ordinance since second reading.

One change is if a developer wants a change, variance or amendment to the zoning, it would have to go through the Planning Commission and County Council.

Wording was also changed for the minimum acreage requirements to two acres of land and that density can only be determined using uplands, not wetlands.

Another change was that County Council, after review of the Planning Commission's recommendation, will determine appropriate setbacks from property lines and needed buffers, except for the 90-foot setback from US Highway 17.

County Councilman Jerry Oakley said that this ordnance has been “tweaked and redone to get it where it needs to be” and he hopes it will serve the needs of the county.

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