City meets to continue discussing changes to current zoning ordinance

The City of Easley held another joint workshop session after the Planning Commission meeting on Monday, March 20, 2023 at 6:30 PM. It was attended by the City Council (CC), Planning Commission (PC) and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)  in the Law Enforcement Chambers. The Planning Commission had the primary responsibility run the meeting about changes to the current zoning ordinance, with input from the CC and ZBA. The public was invited to attend without input.

Zach Prelutsky with Fox Carolina was also in attendance for a story about the impact zoning has on local growth and development. Easley City Planner Mario Dipierto gave a statement last night about the considerations they are making while updating the current ordinance. You can watch the full Fox Carolina story HERE.

The primary topic of discussion was bufferyard regulations.

A bufferyard is a landscaped area along lot lines that separate and screen adjacent properties from one another. These include trees, plants, fences, berms, walls, and other structures. Their purpose is to eliminate or minimize potential nuisances such as dirt, litter, noise, glare of lights, signs, and unsightly buildings or parking areas.

This is particularly important between commercial and residential properties. They provide spacing to reduce noise, odor, or danger from fires, and promote land use compatibility.

Before making any changes to the existing ordinance, Dipierto discussed bringing in a consultant who understood plant growth over time to ensure the specified density and placement of plants made sense over a long period of time. For example, a landscape architect or an arborist could better advise on how big a tree would be in 15 or 20 years, and the potential interactions that could occur between plants and other structures in the space.

The city discussed reducing the density of plants inside bufferyards as it tends to become overgrown and unkempt as years pass under the current zoning ordinance. The type of plant recommendations may have to change as well, as some plants become a nuisance. For example, the Bradford pear tree used to be the go-to in bufferyards, but quickly became an invasive exotic pest in the community. In fact, Clemson University has a Bradford Pear Bounty Program where they will give you a replacement tree for every Bradford Pear tree you remove from your property.

Currently, the city says companies with buildings over 30,000 square feet need to bring in a landscape architect in to advise on the landscaping around the property. In the new ordinance, they are considering lowering that square footage, so more builders are required to bring in an expert for those plans.

The draft and all the changes will be available for public review in the coming weeks once the document is updated internally. There will be an opportunity for public input in the coming months before the draft is finalized and ratified. We will continue to follow and keep you posted about any new developments.