Summerville considers options for a moratorium on building permits

Summerville Town Council members Aaron Brown, from left, Bob Jackson and Bill McIntosh during the July 11 meeting. 

Summerville Town Council members will soon decide whether to place a moratorium on building permits within the town.

Temporarily halting building permits would give the town more time to complete its overhaul of the Unified Development Ordinance, which contains changes to the town’s zoning regulations.

Recently there has been a public outcry over a proposed rental property subdivision in the Germantown area of town. But the idea of a moratorium addresses a broader concern. It’s about protecting the town from opportunist developers seeking to swoop in and build something that doesn’t fit its surroundings.

Councilman Bill McIntosh said the town’s lack of strong design and building standards has made it a target for developers looking to obtain medium-sized parcels of land and get a subdivision approved quickly.

“We don’t want Summerville to become the path of least resistance for some builders to come in and slap together a substandard housing,” McIntosh said.

While he is opposed to a moratorium on building permits, McIntosh said he does think there may be support on the town council for placing a 90-day moratorium on approval of subdivisions of land into five or more lots.

“Such a moratorium would allow council and staff to complete our work on the proposed UDO which has now been given first reading and which would apply primarily to subdivisions of more than five lots.”

Councilman Walter Bailey said he understands the reason for a moratorium on building permits, but it sends out a message that Summerville is “not open for business.”

He said he is against a moratorium because it would stop all residential developments of a certain size.

“Having a moratorium is just going to be detrimental to the town’s image,” Bailey said.

Town council members are expected to take up the issue early next week.