GREENVILLE — The Greenville Planning Commission is discussing potential language changes to its downtown residency regulations to make it easier for “upstairs” rentals.
Commissioners did not take any action Thursday, but seriously discussed changes to the occupancy requirements in the Commercial-3 (C-3) zone, leaving more decision making to building owners.
The proposed change would eliminate the current requirements and delete them as a special use and instead make upstairs occupancy simply a permitted use requiring just zoning administrator approval instead of going in front of the planning commission.
One of the primary changes would be a switch to allow residences and businesses to operate on the same level, so long as it is not on the ground level. Previously, occupancy and commercial uses could not be on the same level, even if an upper level.
“I’m in favor of giving building owners the ability to make their own decisions,” said Commission Chair David Ralph. He added that it should not be up to the city whether a residence and businesses could operate on the same level, if agreed to by both parties.
“I wasn’t sure how far we wanted to get involved in that when it doesn’t have an outside impact, necessarily.” he said.
The proposed language would only require residences to be on a level other than the ground level; have two parking spaces, whether on site or in a city-owned lot; have a direct access from the outside separate from that of the business; and acquire a building permit in order to establish residency.
Keeping safety in mind, officials said there would still need to be fire walls separating any business from a residence.
The goal of the potential change would be to make it easier for the development of upper-level residency while putting most of the decision making in the hands of the building owners.
“It’s fairly simple,” city planner Tim Johnson said.
The commission did not make a final decision Thursday, but decided to table a vote until its next meeting in the hopes members could research the topic a bit more. Johnson said it was important to ensure the handful of single-family residences in the C-3 zone would not be affected by any of the language changes.