A local land planner said people want to return to a time where the food they eat is locally grown and there’s a type of neighborhood development that will let that happen.

Tim Newell with Rivers and Associates spoke in favor of a proposed city code amendment that will create standards for agricultural master plan communities during Tuesday’s Greenville Planning and Zoning Commission.

“It’s something that is being well-received across the country,” he said. “It has a strong appeal to a wide range of the home-buying population from millennials to retirees.

“They like the atmosphere that’s created by integrating a farm environment into a residential community,” Newell said. “They feel like they have elbow room and fresh air and access to free organic produce.”

The communities are typically called “agrihoods,” Newell said, which is typically defined as a residential mixed-use community with a working farm as its central focus.

Through research, Newell estimates there are 200 “agrihoods” either in various stages of planning or already operating across the United States.

City planner Brad Sceviour said a master plan community is a development that will allow flexibility in how space is used. However, it requires a higher level of review, such as obtaining a special-use permit from the City Council.

Greenville’s current standards for master plan communities are mainly for golf course communities, Sceviour said. The amendments will permit agricultural-based development.

Sceviour said there would have to be a commercial use connected to agricultural land in the community. The farm or farms have to be owned separately from the residential property.

There also has to be an emphasis on integrating walking trails and the farm into the “neighborhood experience.”

A small portion of property, usually about 5 percent, is set aside for commercial purposes such as a grocery store or child care. There also can be land set aside for parks or a school, Sceviour said.

There already are designated zones for master plan communities in five existing zoning designations, and there are no plans to change those areas to allow for agricultural communities, Sceviour said.

“What this really does is preserve farmland,” Newell said.

Because Tuesday’s meeting was held on Zoom, state law requires the commission to provide an additional 24 hours to receive written comments before voting on an item.

The commission will reconvene at 6 p.m. today to vote on this proposal and a request for a preliminary subdivision plat for Brook Hollow subdivision.

The proposed plat consists of 132 lots and nearly 72 acres located on the north side of Dickinson Avenue near its intersection with Williams Road.

Engineer Bryan Fagundus said the development will predominantly be duplexes with some space for townhouses.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.