Friday, April 24, 2009

There Goes the Neighborhood: Luxury Promenade Could Become Rail Site

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 3:22 PM

a51e/1240600901-newsblips_resized.jpgThe Charleston Regional Business Journal is reporting that the developers of the Promenade project in the neck area of the peninsula are considering shifting the residential plans for the site to provide a rail site as one possible solution to the debate over improved rail access to the new Charleston port site.

Last year, the developers made a pitch during community input meetings for a mixed development of residential and commercial uses. Development of the site is complicated by the fact that it is on top of two former landfills. Oh, and the housing market has tanked.

The rail proposal doesn't sound doable, but it may signal a hint of desperation from the developer.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Green Google: Maps Feature Walking, Public Transit Directions

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 5:11 PM

0d01/1240261698-googletransit_resized.jpg0885/1240261723-walktocola_resized.jpgGetting ready for the next march from Charleston to Columbia, Mayor Joe? Well, Google has enabled a few new features on the Google Maps function — with routes for walking and public transit.

Of course, the public transit program does not include any programs in South Carolina, so you're either driving, bumming a ride, or you're losing some tread on those Converse.

Give a holler to CARTA at or call (843) 724-7420 and let them know that you would use Google Transit. Interest breeds action, people.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

High-Speed Rail Vision Misses Charleston

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Thu, Apr 16, 2009 at 2:24 PM

9ee0/1239906079-_ben_4414_resized.jpgPresident Barack Obama unveiled plans for a $13 billion investment in a high-speed passenger train system on Thursday, but the proposed route does not make a stop in Charleston.

The proposal would pull $8 billion from the federal stimulus for shovel-ready projects, with an additional $1 billion a year for the next five years to help plan and coordinate other portions of the rail plan.

Divided into 10 parts, the proposed routes in the Southeast hit major cities like Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Columbia, Greenville, and Savannah, but does not make a stop in Charleston. Charleston is instead grouped with "other passenger rail routes."

Corridor routes in the Southeast will be coordinated by officials in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, says Warren Flatau with the Federal Railroad Administration. The current proposal is not finalized and could be modified to include Charleston if a Lowcountry route is included in the state's rail plan, he says.

8231/1239906193-railmap_resized.jpgIt’s odd that the plan would overlook Charleston considering the local municipalities have made a commitment to develop a regional passenger rail system. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley has been advocating for a commuter train between Summerville and the peninsula as the first step for broader rail travel in the Lowcountry.

“That means an automobile isn’t on the highway,” he said in September to the city’s Green Committee.

Riley said at the time that much of the infrastructure was already in place, but more work needed to be done to secure partnerships with railroad companies and other municipalities.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Charleston City Council Slapfest Over Land Planning

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 4:16 PM

569f/1239739799-tim_mallard_corrected_resized.jpgTension is sure to run high this evening, as the Charleston City Council prepares to vote on a resolution that one council members says is an effort to embarrass him for making comments counter to the city’s planning agenda.

On its face, the resolution is to reaffirm the city’s commitment to the urban growth line, a regional agreement that limits growth outside its boundaries. But, attached to the resolution was a transcript of comments made by City Councilman Timmy Mallard in a Feb. 9 Charleston County Planning Commission meeting. Mallard was speaking in support of developers outside the boundary that wanted more than the one home for every eight acres the area is zoned for.  

In his comments to the commission, Mallard said the city and others “want to cram the density on the little triangle of the City of Charleston on Johns Island with these live, work, play five- and six-story developments are not only going to ruin the island, but they’re going to ruin the traffic and bog the island down to a point where traffic will not move unless some common sense decisions are made.

He also said he would be happy to welcome the development into the city. The resolution for consideration Tuesday also states that the city has been approached to annex the development several times and refused.

Mallard says that he absolutely thinks the measure is meant to embarrass him. He goes on to say that the urban growth boundary supported by the city is an arbitrary line that is only important to the city when it’s convenient.

“In the last 30 to 40 days, the line has become some sacred holy grail,” he says. “Maybe it depends on who the developer is.”

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Charleston Police Tired Of Your Drunk Mess of a Roommate

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 9:22 AM

2574/1239726406-cocktail.jpgThe City of Charleston Police Department is taking a zero tolerance stance on troublesome drunks downtown, instructing officers to make arrests when they encounter an intoxicated person during a police call.

In an e-mail to more than 50 officers earlier this month Lt. Charles Mitchell instructed them to make no exceptions for drunks.

“I have noticed a disturbing problem that needs to stop immediately,” he wrote in the e-mail. “If an intoxicated person is encountered then that person needs to be arrested.”

Mitchell tells the City Paper that he later clarified his comments in a second e-mail to officers, explaining that he wasn’t against people having a good time.

“We’re talking about where they are so grossly intoxicated that they’re a danger to themselves and others,” he says.

Recently, some officers have let drunkenness slide and there have been consequences, Mitchell says. In one case, officers broke up a fight downtown. Instead of arresting one of the men who was considered to be “a little intoxicated,” they called him a cab. While they were waiting for the taxi, the man attacked one of the officers. There was also an incident where officers escorted a woman home and left her in the care of her friends, only to have them eventually call 911 due to alcohol poisoning.

“If we see things like that, we’re not going to let them go,” Mitchell says.

In the e-mail, Mitchell tells officers that they are personally liable if they let a drunk person go.

“There is a difference between professionalism and just being an out of the way nice person,” he wrote in the e-mail. “The latter will always get you in trouble where professionalism will always assist you in any situation.”

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Greg Hambrick
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