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Greenville Business Magazine

GVL 2040: Setting the direction for Greenville’s growth and development

Dec 07, 2018 09:42AM ● By Kathleen Maris
By Barry Nocks, PhD., FAICP
Educator and Consultant

Why GVL 2040 is important
Greenville is a thriving city, receiving recognitions as a “best place” to live, visit, retire, and enjoy. Our success, continued growth, vibrancy, and quality of life are not an accident, but the result of continuous efforts in citizen and business engagement, planning, public-private partnerships, and stewardship. The revitalization of Main Street has been a 45-year process that began with a vision of a walkable downtown followed by the narrowing of Main Street, tree planting, sidewalk improvements, and several major projects: the Hyatt Hotel and convention center, the Peace Center, The Well, and the Swamp Rabbit Trail. These were implemented through public-private partnerships based on specific plans.  

In short, planning and public-private leadership have driven our success for more than 100 years, starting in 1907 with a plan recommending actions that we have followed in some form for over a century. These included recommendations to enhance our gateways; promote municipal art; connect parks, greenways, and recreational areas around the Reedy River; and generally improve streets and walkways. Most importantly, Greenville plans purposefully and creatively and then acts to follow its plans. 

The comprehensive plan
In general, comprehensive planning demonstrates good stewardship for the future of the entire city. Greenville is located within one of the most rapidly growing areas of the country, and the metro area is the fastest growing area in the state. As conditions change—positively or negatively—we must be proactive in guiding development in desired ways. 

There are two basic categories of plans: a general or comprehensive plan and specific local plans. The Main Street plan of 1974 is an example of a local plan. Local plans are done in the context of a longer-term policy or comprehensive plan. 

The previous comprehensive plan, Plan-It Greenville, was adopted in 2009, and now, almost 10 years later, many elements of that plan have been implemented. Plan-It Greenville emphasized actions to improve environmental conditions, promote healthy living and economic development, improve transportation, enhance and protect neighborhoods, and encourage a mix of housing types and affordability.
Plan-It Greenville implementation strategies include:
  • Adopt a complete streets policy
  • Encourage minority- and women-owned businesses
  • Prepare and implement corridor plans and neighborhood plans
  • Create/adopt multifamily residential design standards
  • Create/adopt single-family residential design standards
  • Develop a pedestrian and bike infrastructure plan
  • Complete and implement a youth master plan
  • Continue infrastructure studies and improvements
  • Undertake numerous master plans and studies 

It is now time to reflect and take stock of the existing conditions and trends facing the community, along with the community’s ideas and input, to create a new plan to guide long-term preservation, revitalization, and growth so that the City of Greenville can achieve its goals and aspirations.

More specifically, the new comprehensive plan, GVL 2040, will:
  • Guide city actions, capital improvement funding, and other investments
  • Provide measures to monitor progress to desired ends
  • Provide accountability in public processes such as issuing building permits and project funding
  • Be referenced in council decisions and decisions of boards and commissions (e.g., Planning Commission, Design Review Board, Board of Zoning Appeals)
  • Create a clear direction for land development ordinance revisions (if necessary)
  • Articulate a clear direction for the city’s future development, recognized as such by all stakeholders

Public involvement is critical
The goals and aspirations of the plan will be based on the views of the city’s stakeholders: residents, businesses, landowners, and people who work here. We are interested in the views of every subgroup of those populations: of all races and ethnic groups, all ages, all locations in the city. To help guide that process, the City of Greenville has created a 44-member Steering Committee that incorporates our wide diversity. They will reach out to their networks of friends, neighbors, and business and social connections for suggestions, as well as react to information about current conditions, trends, and suggested goals for the city.   

There will be many opportunities to contribute your ideas to the Greenville 2040 process. Whether at a workshop, in a small focus group, or through the online public input tool, everyone is invited to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Meetings will be announced well in advance through traditional media, social media, neighborhood meetings, community businesses, and the City of Greenville’s website for the planning process:

By living, working, or raising a family in Greenville, you have valuable knowledge about this community. Sharing that knowledge and your intuition are vital to the plan’s success. Whether you are a lifelong resident or just moved to the community, your perspective is important.