In North Charleston’s Deer Park neighborhood, some longtime residents feel that the world has been closing in on them, and plans to put businesses where homes now stand would make it worse.
“I’ve been there for 55 years,” Joanne Crosby, of Dantzler Drive, told City Council members at a hearing Thursday night. “It’s time this stops.”
Deer Park is bordered by highways 78 and 52 (University Boulevard and Rivers Avenue), and by Interstate 26. As businesses along the highways push into the neighborhood, down residential streets, residents complain of traffic, lowered property values, and diminished quality of life.
“What I have in this world is my school teacher’s retirement, and my property,” said Fernwood Drive resident Julia Towles. “I need my property value to stay stable, please.”
On Fernwood Drive and Nevonna Drive, the current fight involves a proposal to put a 10-pump Sunoco gas station and convenience store on University Boulevard at the end of two streets. The city has been asked to rezone several properties, including a house on Fernwood, to accommodate the project.
The site is across the street from the entrance to Wannamaker Park, and a used car lot sits on one of the properties now.
“We’re the residents who live there,” said Linda Brinson, of Gable Street. “We don’t want this.”
Brinson and about 20 other residents who attended the City Council hearings said the city would be breaking its word if the zoning changes are allowed, because the neighborhood and the city worked hard years ago to develop zoning and a future land use plan that would allow development while protecting the residential areas.
“We need to stick to the plan that everyone agreed to,” said Deer Park neighborhood association leader Beth Evans. “It’s a citywide issue.”
On Dantzler Drive, the city has been asked to rezone a residential property so that it can be developed as a parking lot for a building planned at the commercial end of the street, for Carolina Eyecare.
“Our intent would be to be as unobtrusive as possible,” said Carolina Eyecare Administrator Dan Flynn.
As with the gas station plan, homeowners near the proposed parking lot say the city should stick to plans calling for that property to remain residential. They say having a parking lot next door would be a negative impact on their quality of life and property values.
“Let them go somewhere else,” Crosby said.
City Council members will consider both plans at a committee meeting at City Hall at 5 p.m. Sept. 19. Councilman Bobby Jameson, whose district includes Deer Park, has indicated he would support a commercial use of the property on Dantzler Drive, suggesting Thursday that residents might accept the plan if Carolina Eyecare put their building on the site, rather than their parking lot.
Councilman Todd Olds, who is in the real estate business, told Dantzler Drive residents that “sometimes you have to look at the big picture.”
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.