By Andy Owens
Published Jan. 15, 2014
Mount Pleasant Town Council made an exception to the town’s comprehensive plan during a first-reading vote Tuesday night, increasing housing density for the Six Mile Subdivision from three homes per acre to 4.23 homes per acre.
Town Council also voted to annex and rezone 13 parcels related to the project, including more than 13 acres of land, and Harry Robinson Road, a private road near the intersection of Six Mile Road and Rifle Range Road.
Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said the change to the comprehensive plan’s housing density affects only this particular subdivision. He said the conceptual plan from the developer asked for 4.23 homes per acre, which would result in a maximum of 82 homes.
As part of the project, American Star Development, located on the Isle of Palms, would pay for a 1,400-foot extension of the city’s sewer service to the community, at a cost of about $400,000. Chris Donato, an engineer who represents American Star, said the developer also would pay about $20,000 for sidewalks on Rifle Range Road, which he said could be a kick-starter for more pedestrian access to the area.
“The added benefits are the surrounding community will have access to gravity sewer,” Donato said. “They can get off the septic tank. They can tie in to the sewer. We think this is a great thing.”
In discussions during and after a public hearing on the matters, several community members living on the affected property and adjacent residents who would be given access to wastewater service showed support for the changes in housing density and the proposed annexations.
Daniel Robinson lives on Harry Robinson Road, and the development would be right by his house. He said he thought it would be a good addition to the town and mentioned having access to sewer service.
Diane D. Lauritsen, vice chairwoman of the Mount Pleasant Waterworks Commission, urged the council to find ways to partner with developers on infrastructure in Mount Pleasant. She also mentioned access to sewer service.
“I guess I would just urge council to consider opening things up and taking more of a community approach to the situation in which development is coming and changes are being made,” she said. “Can we partner in ways that would benefit the 15 residents in that area? Can we look at new ways of working with developers to make sure that we’re putting in infrastructure that is most efficient to help these 15 residents?”
Not everyone spoke in favor, though. George Freeman said the town and Charleston County had worked together to place restrictions on development when it was at its peak several years ago.
She said that even though this discussion was about 15 properties, the council had to consider the cumulative impact of changes on the area, including developments such as Oyster Point and schools that are being built.
Stokes-Marshall pointed out that the property, like much of the coastline from Delaware to Florida, is within the authority of the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission.
“The purpose of that commission is to protect the Gullah-Geechee community that is within our geographic area,” she said. “Before we move forward to implement these changes and do away with the Sweetgrass Basket Overlay, it takes away from all the efforts that were put in, not only by the Gullah-Geechee Heritage Corridor Commission, but also the town, the residents who have worked to develop and implement these policies and memorandum of agreement. I just can’t step totally away from that.”
Councilman Chris Nickels said he thought if the town did not annex the property that the project would go forward, under Charleston County’s authority. He also suggested that higher housing density could result in more affordable home prices.
“It was interesting to have some folks come up here and speak out sort of for and against the project,” Nickels said. “I was moved by the fact that folks directly affected, mainly folks that live there, came out and represented either themselves or themselves and their families, and my takeaway was they were very much in favor of the project.”
Reach Andy Owens at 843-849-3142.