Planning Commission not supportive of proposed moratorium

The Summerville Town Council has been mulling over the possibility of imposing a 90-day moratorium—temporarily halting development—on the subdivision of a tract of land into five or more parcels within R-2 Single Family Residential.

The issue came about after public outcry over a proposed rental home development in the Germantown area of Summerville. Neighbors of the proposed development voiced their concerns during recent town council meetings.

After town council members voted 5-2 to approve the first reading of the moratorium in July, it faced a public hearing at the planning commission meeting on Monday.

Several local Realtors spoke out against the moratorium, including Sharee Mason. She said she doesn’t have any affiliation with the specific project that “inspired all of this reaction,” and that she feels this proposed moratorium is unethical.

“This (moratorium) was very sudden, it was very pointed, there’s a specific purpose and it’s to stop one specific project because a couple of people got loud,” Mason said. “I don’t think that it’s fair or right to pick out one company and say because we are uncomfortable with what might happen, we’re going to use the hand of the government to stop you and take away your rights. I think it’s going to invite a huge legal battle into the town that frankly we don’t need.”

Planning Commission members voted unanimously not to recommend the moratorium. Member Elaine Segelken was absent.

Commission Member Sara Bares said the moratorium is too targeted, other members agreed.

Jessi Shuler, director of planning for the town, said the town staff and the town attorney have similar concerns.

Commission Member Jim Reeves said the proposed moratorium is “not defensible” and it would lead to big lawsuits.

Commission members also said they see no real hardship that would call for such a moratorium.

Summerville Town Council members will consider the second reading of the moratorium in September.