A developer plans to build close to 560 homes on 94 acres off of West Butler Road in Mauldin.
The development would include 128 houses and 133 townhomes. Nine buildings would included an additional 297 apartments, according to preliminary plans.
At an Aug. 18 public meeting to discuss the project, the plans met strong pushback from residents who live near the site. When Paul Harrison of BlueWater Civil Design told the three dozen or so people gathered at the Mauldin library the number of homes planned, the figure drew groans and objections from the crowd.
"Are you crazy?" one man asked.
Another chimed in with, "It's too much."
Outbursts were minimal for the remainder of the hour-long meeting, but an air of tension remained as the residents and development team, including representatives from developer Mark III Properties and BlueWater, talked through specifics of the proposed project and procedural next steps.
The gathered residents raised a number of concerns, from traffic to rainwater runoff to how the construction would impact the environment. Several people said during the discussion that they would have a more favorable view of the project if it did not include rental apartments, which the developers took under advisement.
The group also pointed out that a 57-townhome community on a 5-acre property directly to the west of the proposed site of the development was approved on first reading during an Aug. 15 City Council meeting.
The 94-acre tract sits between Taylor Road and Daniel Court near the library where the meeting was held. While the property is almost entirely undeveloped and dominated by woods, it is surrounded on all sides by communities that include townhomes and detached houses. Harrison told the group gathered Aug. 18 that the density of the proposed project was in keeping with that of adjacent neighborhoods.
"This is a large tract of land," he said. "It's one of the big remaining parcels and you've got to think, all of that (surrounding land) was just like it."
The preliminary plans presented at the meeting showed seven detention ponds throughout the property for runoff management. The houses would be situated in the northeast corner of the property, the apartment buildings along the west property line and the townhomes in between. Plans also showed lines of trees that would act as buffers between the development and surrounding properties. Harrison said the layout is an early draft and subject to change.
Mayor Terry Merritt, who attended the meeting along with several members of City Council, said following the presentation that it was his first time seeing the proposal for the property.
"I have mixed feelings about where West Butler's commercial development blends into residential," he said. "We've got residential coming here and if you look on the other side of this property, you see office complexes. So, where do we stop the residential growth to allow commercial to have room?"
The developers are requesting the city rezone the property to make way for the project. In order to do so, their application will have to go through the city's planning commission before going to City Council, where it would have to pass on two readings. Harrison said if approved, the developers would submit a preliminary plat for the project that would have to be approved by the planning commission before finalizing design.