Glassy Mountain II
By Alex Saitta
September 11, 2017
I wrote this letter to the local papers last week.
I support those speaking out publicly against the 250-home Glassy Mountain subdivision and applaud the recent letters to the editor in opposition. The subdivision will overwhelm the area, the infra-structure systems (roadways, water, sewer), and the long-time residents who live nearby. Thirty to 40 homes, sure, but 250 homes is insane.
I read the news articles and saw the TV stories. It is disappointing none of the county councilmen have taken a public stand against the development. An open letter was addressed to Pickens Councilman Wes Hendricks in this newspaper a few weeks ago, and he didnít respond to it.
All the councilmen ran to represent us. That requires them to lead -- assess situations, inform the people and publicly make it clear where they stand on the issues, especially controversial ones. I urge all the councilman to come out publicly against this proposal and stand with those in opposition.
Unfortunately, the problem we face is much larger than this over-sized subdivision and it will require much thought and some action by our county leaders. Pickens County is facing a growing housing shortage. According to Zillow.com, the average rent in Pickens has risen 35% the past five years or 7% a year. The inventory of houses for sale is extremely low, so home prices are rising at high rate too. Wages in our county arenít rising anywhere close to 7%, so if this trend continues our children will not be able to afford to live and work here.
The shortage must be addressed, and in a way that encourages new construction, the development of reasonably sized subdivisions that donít overwhelm their local community, while protecting our rich natural resources, wildlife, and viewsheds.
One obstacle is the excessive government regulation when constructing new roads, curb, gutter and storm water systems mandated when building new subdivisions. These steep initial costs, the excessive government oversight, and costly regulatory delays before one lot can be sold, has run most of the smaller local developers of subdivisions out of the market. Without them, all that is left is the large out-of-town developers, with their desires of mega-profits, their too-big designs, and little concern for the natural resources our county possesses. The county council and state must review regulations that are crimping the development of housing and see what can be done to make the market more friendly to smaller local developers in our county.
Another issue is our city, county and state representatives have focused exclusively on investing-in and wooing new industry to our county. They have not taken steps in preparing for the inevitable urban sprawl that is now well underway, with Greenville and Clemson University bursting at the seams.
Plus, with the rebound in housing prices nationwide, more retirees are selling their homes in the Northeast, the Rustbelt, and Florida, moving to Pickens county and buying homes here.
We must focus on improving the countyís residential road, sewer and water systems in order to meet this rising housing demand that will continue for the next decade or two. If we donít, homes costing $100,000 five years ago will be $200,000 in five years and they will be unaffordable to most of our children starting out.