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  • Paul Shewmaker

Traffic and growth: a scare for Halloween

In a rapidly growing city like Simpsonville, the challenges of explosive growth are keenly felt by its citizens. It is downright scary. Traffic congestion, overdevelopment, and the overwhelming pace of change are leading to high frustration. We've all experienced it, and many of us have been shaken up by the impact of growth on our beloved city.

A recent email exchange between a resident and myself highlights the genuine concerns of our community. I wanted to share this conversation with you because it sheds light on the issues we face and the urgency of addressing them. She expressed her frustrations with the traffic situation in Simpsonville, particularly on West Georgia Road, because her commute has become frustratingly long, but mainly because she was involved in a scary crash. I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss these concerns and what we can do about them.

Understanding the Growth Dilemma

The growth of Simpsonville is not something we can stop entirely. The city is evolving, and it brings both opportunities and challenges. Consider this analogy: imagine owning a piece of land outside Simpsonville. It has been in your family for generations. A developer offers you millions of dollars to build on it. You would probably like to sell, right? If the government flatly says no to the development, your property value would plummet, and you would have the right to sue for a form of government taking. And you would win. Our limited government power lies in managing growth through zoning. This is why the City of Simpsonville has a strong zoning ordinance. Greenville County does not.

We're at a crossroads. Uncontrolled sprawl is becoming a reality, mirroring what has happened in Fulton County around Atlanta. Wall to wall sprawl with the traffic that goes with it. You don't need a crystal ball to see we're heading in the same direction. Our city is concerned about this trajectory and is working to address it. I've been working with my fellow mayors and Greenville County Council members on this very issue. But It's hard to get this many governmental groups to work together. And don't even get me started on how long it takes to get projects through SCDOT. It is literally decades.

The Role of Annexation

I assure you Simpsonville is not seeking uncontrolled growth. In fact, I am as concerned, and all of city council are as concerned about it as you are. And council doesn't care about the increased tax revenue. It doesn't even come up among council because any dollars that flow in flow right back out to provide services for these new homes.

Developers, however, want to be annexed into the city for several reasons. They see our superior services, including law enforcement and sanitation. They want to offer this as a selling point for their development. At least when they request annexation, the city can influence their development, ensuring it adheres to our zoning requirements. Things like including sidewalks, the width of the streets, the access to secondary roads, and so forth. If we reject their proposal, they turn straight back to the county, which has fewer requirements. While the services are reduced, the development still occurs. You can see this for yourself with all these massive neighborhoods springing up in the unincorporated parts of the county just outside town.

We are actively working to find solutions to these challenges, such as coordinated zoning and addressing annexations. It's a complex issue, but we're dedicated to making Simpsonville a place we're all proud to call home.

The Good News: West Georgia Road

I'm happy to share that SCDOT is finally taking action to improve West Georgia Road. This is a step in the right direction, though it comes with the downside in the near term of dealing with the road construction. It's a frustratingly lengthy process, but it will get better soon.

A Message for the Upcoming Election

As we approach the upcoming mayoral election, I want to make one thing clear: I'm running for re-election, and I understand the concerns of our community. I have two opponents in this election, one of them being the former mayor. Don't believe either of my opponents when they say they'll just fix this. Like magic. That's just silly. The challenges we face are complex, and I'm committed to being honest about what we can realistically expect.

Your support matters, and your vote can help me continue to shape the future of Simpsonville. I appreciate the honesty and willingness of this constituent who shared her concerns. Feedback and engagement in our community are invaluable. I can't change everything overnight, but I promise to continue working to address the issues that matter to you. Together, as a united Simpsonville, we can find solutions to our scary traffic problem and ensure our city remains a great place to live.

Thank you for your support. Please vote November 7th.

Mayor Paul

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