Wednesday, February 14, 2018

City approves West Ashley Area Plan in an effort to shape the suburb's growth

Council deferred a decision on a proposed Johns Island moratorium

Posted by Adam Manno on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 10:47 AM

click to enlarge Traffic pouring into West Ashley through the Ashley River Bridge. - SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
  • Traffic pouring into West Ashley through the Ashley River Bridge.
City Council voted for a master plan Tuesday night that will set goals for development, transportation, and economic growth in West Ashley.

The West Ashley Area Plan, which will be added to the Century V Plan adopted by City Council in Feb. 2011, sets five benchmarks for the city to consider when reviewing ordinances or plans for the area: community design and land use, transportation, infrastructure and sustainability, housing, and economic development.

The document was approved following more than a year of public meetings and drafts by the 19-member West Ashley Revitalization Commission and city staff.

City planner Jacob Lindsey stressed that the plan was drafted to protect historic neighborhoods in West Ashley, as well as to mitigate the heavy rush-hour traffic in the area by connecting neighborhoods and adding more options for pedestrians and cyclists.

The plan also highlights the lack of native workplaces for residents in the area. A survey cited by the city shows that 84 percent of West Ashley residents commute elsewhere for work.

Part of the plan's vision supports adding more housing to "meet market demand and need."

"This push for high density development is incompatible with our suburban way of life," said one resident during the public comments section. "I urge you to vote no and let’s look at the drainage first."

A May 2017 op-ed in the community paper West Of criticized the approach of city contractor Dover Kohl, who worked on the plan with the Revitalization Commission.

"Dover Kohl is a planning firm which embraces a concept called New Urbanism, revolving around fewer people driving cars," wrote John Steinberger. " I think the suburban lifestyle involving the freedom of car travel is here to stay"

Mayor John Tecklenburg, who lives in West Ashley, added that the job of the Revitalization Commission is just beginning. Similarly, councilmember Gary White called the passage of the plan the first step.

"Step two would be that we actually execute the plan and don't just keep this on the shelf," he said.

A development moratorium on Johns Island was deferred amidst confusion on what it would accomplish. A similar moratorium for James Island was passed last year.

Council also approved a six-month extension on a moratorium in the Church Creek drainage basin.

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