Town Council kills proposed moratorium on subdivision of lots

Summerville Town Council and Town of Summerville staff members on Sept. 11. 

The Summerville Town Council has ended the pursuit of a temporary moratorium that would have restricted certain development until an overhaul of the town's unified development ordinance is complete. 

The proposed moratorium would have prevented the subdivision of a tract of land into five or more parcels within R-2 Single Family Residential for 90 days. That idea drew criticism from community members who said the moratorium was too targeted and could stunt the town’s economic growth.

Town Council members voted down the proposed moratorium 6-1 on Thursday, with Councilwoman Christine Czarnik opposed.

Mayor Wiley Johnson had proposed a moratorium on building permits after one developer requested the town annex nearly 1,000 acres and another proposed a rental home development within an area zoned R-2 single-family residential.

“You really don’t need any more than those two things to realize that we have lots to consider,” Johnson said. “I just put (the moratorium) out as a possibility; it was about everything. I see us going so far so fast that I thought it was absolutely time for us to get some breathing room and get the staff to come up with solutions.”

Johnson said the nearly 1,000-acre annexation request is a “tremendous threat,” to the town because if the proposed residential homes are built before commercial properties, then the town would be left covering the cost of additional fire and police protection.

“Growth should pay for itself,” Johnson said.

Rather than temporarily halting all building permits, town council members decided to instead consider a 90-day moratorium on the subdivision of a tract of land into five or more parcels within R-2 Single Family Residential. But that too was unpopular among planning commission members, and some residents.

Johnson said limiting the moratorium to R-2 only made it a “moot point.”

Councilwoman Christine Czarnik was the only council member still in favor of the short term moratorium. She said she supported a temporary moratorium until the UDO is complete. Council members have met weekly for more than eight months to discuss each chapter of the UDO as it undergoes a complete update.