GREENVILLE — Accepting the Greenville Planning Commission’s recommendation, the City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday evening to deny a request by fellow Councilman Mark Lehman to rezone a portion of the Forest View planned use development (PUD).
The council allowed Lehman to plead his case for nearly an hour, which Lehman used mostly to question operational control among city staff during the process, even suggesting there were instances of “overreaching government.”
Lehman brought up several issues he had with the entire process, which began years ago when he purchased around 30 acres of land within the PUD at a tax sale. He noted errors in maps he was given, brought up conversations he had with former assistant city manager Cameron Van Wyngarden — which, according to him, were later rescinded by City Manager George Bosanic — and even claimed Bosanic was not abiding by PUD when he allegedly told Lehman that in order for him to obtain a building permit a site plan would need to be approved by the Forest View Homeowner’s Association.
The city’s attorney, Ken Lane, countered all of Lehman’s claims, most notably the concern with building permits. Lane said if Lehman wished to build something not currently allowed under PUD, he would need an amendment to the PUD, noting it is the amendment that would need to be approved by the homeowner’s association. The association does not issue building permits, he said.
After being asked twice to stay on the topic of the rezoning request by Mayor John Hoppough and Councilwoman Jeanne Cunliffe, Lehman addressed his issue with PUD, where it stands and its unlikeliness of success in the future, all while still suggesting incompetency by city staff.
“This plan and the execution of this plan, for a lack of better words, has been fouled up since day one,” he said.
Lehman has previously labeled the Forest View PUD a “decade-old failed plan” and said again Tuesday the city should move on from it.
“I really do believe it’s time for a clean slate,” he said. “I’m not sure the city has the attention to detail to pull off a PUD.”
The PUD plan in 2004, according to city planning consultant Tim Johnson, was set up to develop up to more than 300 units, including apartments, condos, duplexes, four- and six-unit houses and single family homes. Lehman, who made the request to rezone about 25 acres of the land he purchased to Residential-1, said he had plans to build one home, but would likely continue to build more.
Lehman said he also has an agreement with a Realtor to market and fill seven duplexes (14 housing units) as originally planned in the 2004 development agreement. Those five acres, as well as the other approximately 28 acres, would remain in the PUD, Johnson said.
Lehman requested to rezone part of the PUD to R-1. The reason, he said, is to be able to build the type of homes he wished — he said the 58-foot lots weren’t preferential for single-story homes, which he said have more of a demand in today’s market.
“I like a little more elbow room,” he said.
Even if the area was rezoned R-1, Lane said, Lehman would still be required to join the homeowner’s association and would also have to abide by certain regulations placed upon the land under the associations master deed and declaration of covenant, restrictions and conditions, which addresses allowable uses.
Planning Commission members during their discussions said the changes sought by the rezoning request could be accomplished under the PUD by requesting amendments. Most council members agreed, along with Lane and Johnson.
Johnson said the two zones, as far as land uses are concerned, are nearly identical. The PUD currently in place allows for single-family homes, but only on lots specifically designated for them.
Johnson said the lot sizes could be changed through an amendment to the PUD, which again, would have to be approved by the homeowner’s association.
Several Forest View residents contested Lehman’s proposal, mostly arguing the change would depreciate values of their homes and deviate from the type of neighborhood they bought into. Residents stated they chose to purchase homes in Forest View because they liked the idea of a condominium-style neighborhood and were convinced it would be developed as just that.
Because the planning commission recommended a denial, it would have taken a super majority in order to grant the request. The council voted 4-1 to deny the request, with Councilman Lloyd Scoby casting the only vote against a denial. Councilman Larry Moss absent from Tuesday’s meeting. Lehman did not vote as it would be a clear conflict of interest.