More accountability — that’s the drive behind two pieces of legislation Greenwood City Council approved at Monday’s meeting.
One ordinance seeks to give the city and developers seeking to build in Greenwood the option to use a zoning district that holds developers to a site plan so neighbors know what to expect. The other gives the city more teeth when dealing with negligent landlords who own properties the city considers blight.
Council approved second reading on an ordinance tweaking the city’s Master Planned Residential Zoning district. Assistant City Manager Draper Carlile explained that MPR zoning is an option developers can take that offers them flexibility not afforded under traditional zoning options.
In exchange, developers are required to provide the city with a site plan and a development narrative that describes the number of lots, their density and other details. The city can lock that property into this site plan for as long as the zoning stands, and the MPR provides avenues for developers to apply for adjustments at the city’s discretion.
“It provides more accountability on the part of the person requesting the rezoning,” City Manager Julie Wilkie said. “The second thing it does is it really drives more of the — you need to be innovative, you need to respect the character of the neighborhood, you need to try and protect trees.”
These tweaks to the existing MPR zoning remove some of the cumbersome language that Wilkie said she thinks made it undesirable for developers. The ordinance passed second reading with a vote of 6-0, with council member James Jones absent.
Council also moved to adopt international property maintenance codes that would hasten the city’s process for dealing with blight properties. Wilkie said this ordinance is intended to let the city get more aggressive with code enforcement, while also allowing officials more flexibility in how they hold property owner’s accountable.
“We really need to get rid of these 110 houses that we know are dilapidated, that we know are a haven for crime,” Wilkie told council. “They are pulling property values down. They are an eyesore in our community.”
Wilkie said those 110 properties range from unsafe structures to properties that present an imminent danger for anyone who goes inside. They’re evidence that there are some negligent property owners, she said.
The ordinance’s changes speed up the timeline for the city’s path to demolition or remediation. Carlile said property owners currently have 850 days from their first notification of a violation to the city finally being able to take action. The new process would reduce that to about 455 days, and contains a structure for civil penalties and fines for owners who don’t respond to city notices.
Included in the ordinance is a voluntary remedy agreement — a process by which owners and the city can agree on a path to resolve the issue on a timeline. Owners unwilling or unable to do repairs or demolish their property can also consider donating the property to the city.
In other business:
Council approved rezoning about 32.5 acres at 1427 E. Cambridge Ave. to R7. The developer intends to put 103 lots on the property, and council voted 4-2 to approve the rezoning, with Mayor Brandon Smith and council member Ronnie Ables dissenting.
Another request to rezone 80 acres at 1501 Marshall Road to facilitate development of 237 proposed lots was tabled so Jones could be a part of the vote and the developer could consider the new MPR zoning option.
Terrence Dorsey spoke to council about his concern that the Greenwood Police Department failed to follow protocol in handling a suspected intoxicated driver in July, leading to his stepson’s death in a DUI wreck. He asked council to consider looking into the matter.
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