Watchdog Report – August 15th


We have worked on three significant issues this month, all of which have received final readings and were adopted.  They include a new sign ordinance at the City of Anderson, updates to the Stormwater Design Manual at Anderson County, and a large overhaul to Easley’s zoning ordinance. 

Anderson County’s Stormwater Design Manual

Your government affairs team worked with county staff and county council’s Planning and Public Works Committee to update the manual to address citizen complaints about excessive stormwater runoff in new developments.   The changes included:

  • Establishing 2017 as the base design standard.  Developers are now required to design their stormwater measures to maintain pre-development runoff, as it existed in 2017, or current pre-development runoff, whichever is less.  The point is to achieve better management of stormwater runoff after development.  In some cases, development since 2017 has improved stormwater runoff.  Sometimes it has made it worse.  For most developments, there will be no difference.
  • Increase the standard for conveying stormwater runoff to stormwater detention.  The current standard is to design for a 10-year storm.  The new standard will be a 25-year storm.  The difference in cost is minor, but the higher standard will flow more water to stormwater detention more quickly, reducing the risk of flooding.  The standard for detention did not change.
  • Require that all stormwater management facilities are deeded to a property owners association.  This will eliminate conflicts with individual property owners when the county inspects stormwater management facilities.
  • Two fees were increased to provide funding to the county for inspections and review and approval of plans.  Neither fee had changed in several years. 

City of Anderson Sign Ordinance

Almost a decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an Arizona case that signs are protected speech.  Anderson is one of the last jurisdictions in the Upstate to revise their sign ordinance. 

The city is updating all their ordinances and has retained a consultant to help them with the work.  They prioritized the sign ordinance, and the tree ordinance, first.  City council updated the tree ordinance in July.

The draft sign ordinance was well-written and did a great job removing content-based regulation.  An issue your Realtors Association always looks out for is how sign ordinances regulate temporary signs like real estate signs.  The new ordinance allows for a small temporary sign on any residential lot.  That addresses for sale signs.  It also allows lead-in signs on the weekends.  That addresses open house signs.  But the ordinance was problematic for commercial for sale signs.  Those signs would have required a permit and would only be allowed for 30 days in a six-month period.

At our request, city council deferred action on the ordinance for one meeting to allow us to work with city staff to address our concerns.  The new draft, which city council adopted on August 14, allows for sale signs in commercial areas just like residential areas.  Lead-in signs are not allowed, but they aren’t generally needed for commercial listings.  The most intense commercial and industrial districts allow for a 32 square foot sign.  The lighter commercial districts allow for a 16 square foot sign.  As long as there is an active for sale or lease agreement, a sign is allowed without a permit.

This brings up one important point: the push back on real estate signs is that they seem to remain up long after the property is leased or sold.  Do you part to protect Realtors’ ability to use signs without significant regulation by removing signs after the property is sold or leased.

If you want to read the final sign ordinance, email

Easley Changes Their Zoning Ordinance

We saw this month the power of NIMBYism in the City of Easley.  After months of debate, and constantly changing drafts, Easley City Council changed their zoning ordinance.  The most significant, and negative, change for real estate was a substantial decrease in residential densities.  For some properties, particularly larger properties, the density was reduced by half or more.  And several changes were made to their density table at final reading on August 14.  Your association opposed the changes in density in the ordinance.

If you want to see what has changed, email

Odds and Ends

There is always more.  Here are two more items of interest:

Voters in the Fork Number 2 election precinct of Anderson County voted overwhelmingly to approve zoning in the area between the Tugaloo River, Seneca River, and I-85 near Lake Hartwell.  The next step is for County Council to give final approval to the details of zoning.

Pickens County Council gave final reading to issuing $12,750,000 in general obligation bonds to fund the Highway 183 expansion project.  Additional funding will come from C-Funds (a portion of the gas tax) and the S.C. Infrastructure Bank.

Michael Dey, Director of Government Affairs