City commissioners weigh impact of development on Maybank Hwy.
Anchored solidly by Riverland Terrace, James Island’s oldest developed neighborhood, the northwest corner of James Island enjoyed a long run of the status quo when it comes to the introduction of large-scale development… and then came “the Standard.” The massive 280-unit, mixed use development now dominates Maybank Hwy. The Standard is now the symbol of unstoppable progress on ole’ Jim Isle, and it’s hardly the only one.
Recently, at the City of Charleston’s Wednesday meeting of the Planning Commission, two additional, large-scale, residential developments were on the docket. Each property is located along the south side of Maybank Hwy. from Bethany Church to the intersection with Woodland Shores Dr., and each is currently matriculating through various boards and commissions in the City of Charleston’s Planning Department.
James Island projects that journey through the County or City of Charleston’s respective planning bodies have long drawn the attention of activists and this past week was no exception. As is typically the case with potentially controversial meetings involving James Island land tracts, last Wednesday’s meeting featured a curveball or two.
The “gathering place” zoning on which The Standard is located has room for much more. On a three-acre plot, developers hope to locate an assisted living facility. In addition, another three-lot, 16.6 acre project is under consideration for that location. Design plats for both projects have been submitted to the City’s Technical Review Committee (TRC), a precursor board that hears project proposals and vets them before they make it the commission proper. Proposals will be before the Planning Commission in August, September or soon after.
Perhaps the most controversial of the projects in the days leading up to the Planning Commission meeting was the “Riverland Oaks” residential development. However, the item was removed from the night’s agenda after representatives from Hussy, Gay, and Bell, real estate brokers representing property owner Venn James Island, LLC, pulled their application for approval of their subdivision plan. The plan calls for 115 residential lots to be located on the thin, north-south running, 27.8-acre tract of land directly behind The Pour House.An additional 49 units are scheduled for 14 acres near the corner of Fleming and Central Park Rd. near Burgess Dr., density that equates to an average of three and a half homes per acre. The project, called Fleming Park, is also working its way through the TRC at present.
For their part, James Island conservationists took the representatives on City Council to task for their inaction on the issue. Though The Standard is now in Bill Moody’s City District 11, Kathleen Wilson (District 12) and William Dudley Gregorie (District 6, in which the Standard was located until redistricting) both have a stake in the area, and both are currently working behind the scenes on behalf of concerned James Islanders, most of whom point to traffic congestion as their primary reason for opposition.
As aptly expressed in an email to Moody from longtime public do-gooder Carol Jacobsen, communication was also an issue. “The developers have made no effort to contact neighbors and affected groups throughout this whole process, we all know what a monstrosity of a building that is going up looks like, and we need responsible and responsive representatives who can convey what a disaster this will be,” wrote Jacobsen.
“Regardless, I do feel that we have three representatives on the City of Charleston council who represent James Island, and we need all three of you to step up to the plate on this proposal at The (sub)Standard,” continued Jacobsen. “This “gathering place” zoning must be fixed and changed to allow a say by the community. For those who say, ‘there’s nothing I can do,’ I say this is not the right job for you.”