Buffers, Booze, & Bibles

Town zoning board gives CountyRoadWise go-ahead on tree variance, denies Camp Rd. liquor store

By Charlie Morrison | Community Editor

A full calendar year has come and gone in the life of the fourth incorporated Town of James Island, and slowly, steadily, Town representatives and staffers alike appear to be settling in to their respective roles with the Town and business is getting done. While the processes and procedures inherent in conducting business, particularly public meetings, has tripped up many a neophyte Town public servant, on the whole business is starting to get done down at Town Hall. That fact was on display last Tuesday, when the Town’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) vetted a pair of significant zoning and land use requests with both efficiency and aplomb.Of the six sub-committees that operate under the Town, the BZA has without question the most direct influence on matters affecting JamesIsland. As a quasi-judicial board, the BZA has final decision-making authority on special exceptions (to land-use rules), variance requests and appeals to administrative decisions on zoning, all potential points of controversy.

Valiquette in front of ToJI Sign, crowd

Charleston County RoadWise consultant Peter Valiquette presented a request for a variance to remove a 26-inch Live Oak from the corner of Harbor View Rd. and Stiles Dr.

Last week was certainly in keeping with that, when the body heard cases involving a pair of unique official requests. Attorney Brian Hellman appeared before the Board along with a pair of potential tenants, and property owner Kenneth E Berlinsky of KEBO, LLC, requested that the Board reverse a past decision barring a liquor store from setting up shop in the vicinity of a pair of churches.

Pastor Parris Williams of the nearby First Baptist Churhc, a former Town Councilman himself, spoke out against the liquor store

Pastor Parris Williams of the nearby First Baptist Churhc, a former Town Councilman himself, spoke out against the liquor store

The first matter of business involved an appeal to the Board to reverse their own June 18 ruling disapproving a special exception request to set up a liquor store at 1238-F Camp Rd. Not only is the space in the very complex that houses Town Hall itself, but it is also in the near vicinity of both the Apple Charter School and the First Baptist Church.

Despite appeals from the prospective business owners, their attorney, and Berlinsky, who as the owner of the shopping center rents Town Hall to the government. In any case, the request for reconsideration was roundly rejected by a quorum of BZA Board members, Board Chairman Sim Parrish, Vice-Chairman Jim Fralix, and Jason Gregorie.

The finesse necessitated in making that ruling continued on in the second case presented to the BZA, when officials from Charleston County RoadWise presented their request for a variance to cut down a 26-inch Live Oak tree (diameter breast height) on the corner of Harbor View Rd. and Stiles Dr., as part of their project to widen Harbor View Rd.

Charleston County RoadWise representatives Peter Valiquette and Molli LeMin presented their request, illustrating their position with a slideshow showing the layout of the intersection and the conundrum it presents.

As the project depends partially on federal funding and was certified on the federal level, RoadWise officials are forced to abide by the standards established by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).

As such, the intersection cannot be designed ad-hoc and must adhere to national standards, reported Valiquette to questions about the possibility of moving the roadway and preserving the tree. For that to happen, as per the FHA and NEPA standards, another grand tree across the intersection would instead have to be cut down.

The board seemed resigned to the fact that all that could be done was done with respect to the tree and the intersection. The vote to allow the variance was in the end, accepted unanimously.

The next meeting of the James Island Town BZA will be Tuesday, September 17, at 7 pm at James Island Town Hall, located at 1238-B Camp Rd. For more information, see the Town’s web page at www.jamesislandsc.us, or give them a call at 795-4141.

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