When a property is subdivided and sold, what the new owner is allowed to build and do on the property is spelled out precisely in the development code.

A subdivision is land that has been broken down into smaller areas.  Landowners opt to subdivide their land to sell smaller pieces to individual owners.  

Before a subdivision can legally occur, an owner must apply for permission.

These new parcels have precise boundaries and legal descriptions with clear ownership titles and specific property rights.  The conferred property rights are what the new owner of the subdivided area is allowed to build and do. These new property rights don’t mean the new owner will activate them, only that they have the right to do so.

What the new owners may be allowed to do and to build can impact neighbors. For example, the development can mean increased traffic, added noise, loss of scenic views or an increase in stormwater runoff. These potential impacts are taken into consideration prior to a subdivision request approval.

Most review processes are generally administrative. If the development code clearly says a subdivision may occur, and the proposed subdivision complies with the development code requirements, the review merely confirms the code’s intent.  Planning staff and planning or zoning commissions can still require adjustments to the application to ensure the future subdivision is built consistent with area’s character.

However, development codes are almost never 100 percent clear. Review processes may take more time and may be subject to different interpretations.  As a development code ages, it can become more ambiguous. When this happens  t’s a good indication that it's time for a city to rewrite its development code.

A subdivision can impact anyone who lives in, works in or visits Greenville. For that reason, the City’s development code must be clear about how it handles competing claims, one for changing the character of an area, the other for keeping the character the same.  

In Greenville’s case, development pressures are already significant and on the rise throughout the city. These pressures are unlikely to subside any time soon. The result is an ever-changing Greenville, in size, look, feel, price and character. For residents who liked Greenville the way it was, changes can be frustrating if what is developed is inconsistent with current residents’ expectations.   Additionally, infill development that results from consolidation or new subdivisions can impact property values and alter the quality of residential life.

The development code regulates the form of future development. Form is the building height, width and mass, as well as the placement of the building on a site. By regulating many buildings along a road on many sites, the code effectively becomes the tool that establishes and preserves the physical character of a block, a neighborhood, an area, and, altogether, the whole city.

Do you have ideas about how subdivisions should be regulated in the new development code? Share them at