Laurens , S.C. – Laurens City Council’s approval last week of the planning commission’s most recent recommendation will give the city its first urban subdivision in at least 40 years, and with that comes the gradual increase in the city’s tax base as families contract to build within the city limits.
While other homes have been built in developments, this is the first which was required to come before the planning commission for recommendation and for approval by council in at least 40 years. It will include sidewalks and walkways which connect to those already within the city, said Mayor Nathan Senn.
Council unanimously approved the recommendation to allow Ryan Homes to begin work on Laurens Station, the name of the subdivision to be located in property close to East Main Street in Laurens. Entrance and exit access will be from East Main Street across from Woodrow Street, and from East Farley Avenue, which is also called Isaac White Boulevard.
Aside from four or five preview homes which will be built as models, all the homes in ‘Laurens Station’ will be built only when families contract to purchase them, according to Ryan Homes’ system of building subdivisions, said City Administrator Gary Coleman, so the city expects construction to occur gradually.
The landowner has been removing some trees and Ryan Homes will soon be taking over the property.
The plan includes a maximum of 153 homes in the subdivision, Coleman said, and it includes green space and sidewalks which will connect to those already in use by the city.
“It’s in an R3 District so it’s an urban development,” Coleman said.
While council this spring reduced its minimum lot width from 60 to 50 feet for the R3 Urban classification, the smallest lot width in the planned Laurens Station subdivision will be 55 feet at the street, but the lot size itself has not decreased.
“R2 subdivision homes and R1 both remain larger, but as an urban subdivision, the lot widths at the street are reduced for higher density housing,” Coleman said. “Ryan Homes said at the most it would build 50 houses a year so that will increase the tax base slightly over each year.”
Currently, there are about 3200 homes actively paying taxes within Laurens City Limits.
Mayor Nathan Senn said he’s heard concerns that the smaller sizes of lots will allow a huge influx of additional people within the city, but the city has faced significant negative growth for the last three and four decades.
“We hit our population max around 1980 and since then we have seen about a 16 percent decline,” Senn said. “During my administration we have grown .45 percent every year and that’s the first time since the 1980s that Laurens has seen three consecutive years of population growth.”
Coleman said the planning commission reviewed the plans on May 11, and at the regular May council meeting the plan was provided to council for review so that it could vote on the plan in June. Its vote last week was unanimous, Coleman said.
Before the developers ever approached the city, it had already received clearance from the Laurens Commission of Public Works that as many as 150 new homes within the East Main region would not put a
strain on the resources. The Laurens Fire Department had also checked the loca- tions of each of the homes, and determined the subdivi- sion still places the new homes within a mile and a half of one of the two LFD stations, thus not impacting the city’s favorable ISO rating.
The city may eventually get two more subdivisions, although the Planning Commission has not yet received plans for a development near BI-LO or the announced development near The Ridge at Laurens.
Senn said while some city and county residents have expressed concern that the city is allowing the con- structions of too many homes too fast and that the
lot widths are too small, he said the changes for the R3 Urban Subdivision plan are similar, yet still larger in total lot size, than plats for homes which were planned in the early 1900s by the North Laurens Realty Company, which showed 50- foot lot widths planned for the Watts Mill area.
“City council has approved 153 homes which may be built over a three-year period or may be spread out over a longer period of time. The developers have exceeded our demands and included amenities we have asked for, such as a playground area, water wetlands buffers and trails,” Senn said. “This is not chasing the lowest common denominator.”