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Clemson Planning Commission shuts down development proposal

The Grange // Courtesy
The Grange Clemson site plan currently.

An earlier version of this article stated that the proposal could no longer move forward in the process, however, the developers can still present the proposal to the City Council. The Tiger regrets this error and has since corrected it.

The city of Clemson Planning Commission voted against recommending The Grange Planned Development proposal for approval by Clemson City Council at a meeting on April 8 due to a lack of information in the document and resident opposition.

On Dec. 18, 2023, Daniel Youngblood, with developer Maverick Land, LLC, applied for a Planned Development PD to develop The Grange housing development’s existing 148.36-acre Phase One land. The property, located off Chapman Hill Road near U.S. Highway 123, would be for residential and nonresidential uses. The proposal would also develop a 33.94-acre Phase Two property outside the city’s boundaries in Pickens County to a commercial center and townhome development.

Due to height and occupancy concerns, the developer modified the original PD document by lowering the maximum building height from 85 ft. to 65 ft. and decreasing the maximum permitted unrelated occupants from four to three, with the exception of workforce units.

Cassidy Michaux of DPR Designs from Charlotte, North Carolina, presented the proposal to the Planning Commission on April 8 for approval to have the PD reviewed by the City Council.

“I think the character of this (development) wants to be… more organic, more tied to nature, than necessarily the town center,” Michaux said during the meeting.

The Grange resident Elizabeth Melvin presented a letter signed by 40 residents to the Planning Commission expressing concerns about the PD. Some will not sign for fear of retribution from the Homeowners Association.

Homeowners’ concerns regarding Phase 2 include increased HOA dues, decreased property values, public misuse of amenities, construction debris, unclear green space development, safety hazards for children and having to fund Chapman Hill road improvement projects.

Youngblood did not provide solutions to these concerns during a Zoom meeting on March 6 between Youngblood Development Company representatives and residents of The Grange, despite stating the opposite to the Planning Commission.

“There was no formal presentation of a potential solution, no vote was taken by the homeowners of the Grange, no concessions or agreements were made on the part of the Grange homeowners,” Melvin said.

Planning Commission members also brought up problems with the PD plan, including too much flexibility, vague language and last-minute modifications. Members said the proposal lacks answers to questions about maintenance, upkeep, parking and open space. The proposal’s writing would also allow the developers to build both a hotel and maximum multi-family dwelling units, violating current zoning regulations.

“We are not comfortable with the language in the PD, as I personally explained to you, nor is the planning department here at the city of Clemson,” Planning Commission Chair Herb Tyler told Michaux.

The Grange homeowners currently pay approximately $150-$200 monthly in HOA dues for the upkeep of common areas, landscaping, insurance, amenities and more. Amenities include a pool, basketball court, recreational center, walking trail and green spaces. The Phase Two plan states that these amenities would be open for public use.

“If amenities in Phase Two are not solely to be used by Grange residents, our HOA dues will need to be reduced to reflect the financial burden… Grange residents who have paid overpriced dues in anticipation of amenities should be compensated,” Melvin said.

At a Planning Commission meeting on Feb. 12, Phase Two of The Grange also proposed the development of green spaces as single-family homes, the addition of 200 to 600 new residences, a hotel, retail businesses, a public park and an office space.

“They are devaluing our community, they are devaluing our home property. I would have to say there’s continued obscurity — even with the presentation today — of what’s happening,” another resident of The Grange said during the meeting.

Furthermore, Cassidy Michaux requested a backup plan of turning the Phase Two development into an apartment complex if the retail space does not yield the profits desired by Youngblood Development Company because “there is no clear plan for the development of Phase Two,” Michaux said during the meeting.

Melvin responded that an apartment complex would reduce home values and create an unsafe family environment. The Planning Commission also did not support Michaux’s request.

“The application is underdone and is missing key attributes, like a clear plan from Chapman Hill Road, its extension to SC 88, and 18 Mile Road, and the bridge on Chapman Hill Road. The plan lacks a distinct timeline and an agreement as to how the project will be funded and what governing agencies need to be involved,” Melvin said.

The Grange PD appeared before the Planning Commission as a concept presentation workshop on Dec. 11, 2023, an informal public session on Feb. 12, and finally, a formal consideration on March 11.

Although the Planning Commission voted to recommend the City Council not to approve the PD proposal, the developers can still present the proposal to the Council.

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Kat Pugh
Kat Pugh, Asst. News Editor
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