Wednesday, April 1, 2015

When infill gets ugly

I’ve written before about one of the most pressing issues threatening our Greenville neighborhood these days – irresponsible development. Along with spring comes the roar of construction equipment, those developers knocking on our doors offering us “bargain” prices for our homes in hopes of splitting the properties and putting up five mcmansions in the place of one historic bungalow. Here are five reasons why infill in the North Main neighborhood needs to be closely monitored and regulated.

1. The mature trees are under siege. The perfectly healthy trees that keep our streets shaded and cool in the summer, and insulate us against the cold winds of winter are disappearing at a faster rate than they can be replaced. There is no room for large trees in these new developments; when you subtract the footprint of the house, the garage, the porch, the driveway and the “containment ponds,” there is just enough room left for a lawn. (And who wants shade on their lawn?) You and I moved to this neighborhood partly because of the storybook streets, with the large trees forming a green tunnel in the summer so that we can still go for a midday run or walk without getting heat stroke. Crepe myrtle and redbuds do not replace 150 year old oaks – not aesthetically, not monetarily (in terms of saving you money on energy bills), not in converting oxygen, not in wildlife benefits, not in a million years.

2. The houses being built are twice the size of all the surrounding homes. This would be fine if they had the larger lot to go with it, but instead they are on smaller lots than the surrounding homes, with more stories, and walls closer to the neighboring homes and streets than any other construction on the block.

3. There is no green space left. Sure, one house/garage that takes up 90% of the lot on a block is one thing, but imagine if 90% of North Main was covered by shingles, asphalt and pavement. Would you still want to live here?

4. Steep slopes and lowlands are being developed. Areas that were previously unsuited for buildings are being bulldozed and filled in, providing enormous runoff problems that will plague the neighborhood for years to come. With large percentages of these sloped lots covered by turf and asphalt, there is no chance of rainwater soaking into the ground. Instead it runs down driveways and spills out from ‘containment ponds,’ tearing up residential streets with great expense to the taxpayer and even greater expense to the Reedy River, where this muddy, polluted water ends up.

5. Properties are being developed with no regard to the neighbors. Take a look at the map below, and tell me you would want 10 homes in the strip behind your home, a right-of-way previously owned by the city that was never realized. Yet this is exactly what is being proposed, and every time the community speaks out against it and shuts it down, the developers lay low until the furor has died down before resubmitting the plan in hopes they can sneak it through before anyone notices.

What can you do? Join the North Main Community Association and learn of new developments being considered in your backyard. But more importantly, contact your District 1 Representative, Amy Ryberg Doyle. (PO Box 2207, Greenville, SC 29602, (864) 232-7179,, @AmyRybergDoyle) and let her know your concerns. Ask her to do her duty as an elected official and represent us in protecting our neighborhood!

We need infill ordinance protecting our historic neighborhood against companies just looking to turn a profit at the expense of the families living here! We need to speak up and support our neighbors, before it is the property next door being subdivided, the trees across the street being cut down, your backyard shaded by a three story home. We need to realize what we have, before it is too late.


  1. Well-argued, Liene! I obviously don't live in your neighborhood, but it's a problem I've seen a lot up here in Northern Virginia, too. McMansion have got to go. Best of luck fighting the good fight down there!

    1. Thank you Elga. It's a touchy subject, as of course everyone has the right to want to live in this neighborhood. However, I don't believe this right should come at the expense of those already living here, and I am so naive as to not understand that primarily it is the developers who are profiting. Some of the companies involved have 'developed' especially bad reputations, even with the city officials - but what has been done, cut down and built can not be undone, uncut and unbuilt.

  2. That pothole / erosion looks vicious. It looks like a citizen took road repair into his/her own hands to repair the area. I usually avoid/drive around streets that are mangled - increasing traffic to other, formerly-peaceful streets.

    1. That pothole is the direct result of raging water runoff from the most recent development; the water can not be absorbed by asphalt and shingles, and instead of a groundcover to slow its flow there is now a curving driveway leading to the street, where the only impediment is the speed bump intended to 'calm traffic.' However, the residents of the new development exit the neighborhood via Main St. - and so do not even have to traverse the minefield of their development's creation.

  3. We used to live on Buist Avenue, and it's amazing how much infill has taken place there.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...