ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–Anderson County Council has passed a new Conservation Subdivisions ordinance for un-zoned areas. The new ordinance could preserve the environment and save you dollars on your next property and home.
The purpose of the Conservation Subdivision is to preserve agricultural and forestry lands, natural and cultural features, provide open areas for rest and recreation, and encourage the development of more attractive neighborhoods.
“So a conservation subdivision allows a developer to have more compacted developments. So, the density is more compacted on a subdivision, instead of having houses spread out all over a piece of land. The houses are closer together, but in exchange, the developer gets lower cost for building smaller lots, which is what a lot of people want nowadays,” said John Caime, Special Projects Manager for Anderson County.
Conservation subdivisions are an option for developers and buyers, and not a requirement.
“This is just a tool. It’s not required that people do this. They can still do a traditional subdivision, but that ends up being some problems, especially with some folks that want to see more preservation of open space. This is a tool to allow developers to do what they want to do. It allows the people who want to buy these kinds of homes to have those homes available here in Anderson County, and then it also allows for the conservation of lands,” Caime said.
These neighborhoods will make room for more greenspace, walking trails and fun amenities, since homes are more grouped together.
“It takes a little bit of getting used to, but I actually enjoy it much more because I have a lot of greenspace in the backyard. So I sit out on my back porch and I have all of this greenspace, instead of looking out in someone’s backyard, I’m looking into a nice, wooded area with deer and everything,” Caime said.
In these neighborhoods, developers can now build a home on a minimum lot area of 5,000 square feet verses 10,000, as long as they preserve the required open space and buffers. Conservation subdivisions must be five acres or larger and land area for the proposed conservation subdivision must be preserved as open space, according to the below examples.
Required Open Space Example:
An average lot size with two acres or greater, there’s no open space required. An average lot size with one acre to 1.99 acres, at least 10 percent of open space is required. An average lot size of 0.5 acre to .99 acre, at least 15 percent of open space is required, and under 0.5 acre, at least 25 percent of open space is required. The open space required above, shall be the percentage of land area of the total acreage to be subdivided, which shall be set aside as protected open space for natural habitat preservation, passive recreation, and or conservation for agriculture.
Caime said these types of homes will be more affordable for buyers since they’re on smaller lots.
“Right now, there’s not an overload of houses, because there’s a deficit in terms of the housing. There’s also a problem with the pricing of the houses here. In Anderson County, the median house price is $411,000, that’s just not attainable for someone of your generation. So, there has to be some solutions,” Caime said. “It’s a compromise between growth and conservation. Growth and conservation are not enemies, they can go hand and hand and you can have good quality development, by having conservation alongside with growth and development.”
He also said it’ll be cheaper for developers, as it’s less cost to build roads, sewer, water, and it’s less dirt work.
“From a beneficial standpoint is, when we have these conservation designs, we’re really able to protect wildlife, protect farmland, and largely the character of a more rural community. It also helps with affordable housing depending upon who’s building in these conservation communities,” said Tammy Woodbury, Agent at Berkshire Hathaway C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS. “With the home sites being a little bit smaller, you’re more likely going to have some affordable houses in there,” Woodbury said.
Woodbury mentioned a neighborhood with a similar feel during an interview with 7-News.
“All the people in the neighborhood, the majority of them have become very very close to one another. So there are Friday night gatherings around the firepit, they’re grilling out, they’re doing all these things together where they’ve become best friends. So there is this community aspect just with quality of living from these opportunities in these types of communities,” Woodbury said.
While county officials said this is a solution for both growth and conservation, Woodbury said there are still some concerns for real estate experts and developers–with the open space restrictions.
“Obviously when you’re protecting things that means a lot of stuff is off limits. I’ll tell you from a real estate perspective, it makes us very nervous. One thing that we’re having a hard time with is affordable housing,” Woodbury said. “With really large conservation sites, the problem is it eats up land and the only thing we’re not making more of is land, so once we eat it up in a conservation site we lack some opportunities to build affordable housing,” Woodbury said. “I think there are pros and cons. I think in real estate right now, we’re feeling an extraordinary pressure with not having enough homes.”
“Larger lot subdivisions are causing the people who live nearby to protest due to the cutting of trees, the loss of open space, etc. The country feel goes away when it’s larger lots wall-to-wall houses,” Caime said.
Caime said it has been proven that the value of a house is more with amenities like trails, and nice views in a particular neighborhood.