Plan to manage growth in place
SUMMERVILLE — A plan to manage growth in Dorchester County is finally in place, after months of hearings, debates and compromises.
Proposed growth plan nears approval; Many think area is 'on the right path', published 11/04/08
Council unanimously voted Monday to approve a new comprehensive plan, which will guide what gets built in the county over the next two decades.
Mapping the future
Tri-county governments are crafting in-depth plans to handle growth. Will their plans fit together? Read the special report from The Post and Courier.
"Hallelujah!" Council Chairman Larry Hargett exclaimed as the audience applauded after the vote.
Dorchester has been the state's fastest-growing county the last several years. Growth here affects the entire Charleston area, as the majority of residents drive toward Charleston for work.
Residents around Summerville and North Charleston, frustrated by overcrowded roads and schools, have been calling for more controls on development. The new plan includes a section that says the county can't approve a new development if roads and schools can't handle it and directs council to consult with the school district before approval.
Conservationists were worried about thousands of acres of unprotected farmland and timberland west of Summerville. The new plan designates wide swaths of land as rural. Development will be clustered near existing nodes, rather than spread throughout the county.
Representatives of Audubon South Carolina and the Coastal Conservation League praised the plan during a public hearing before the vote.
"This has been a long time coming," Coastal Conservation League Project Manager Hamilton Davis said. "It remedies some of the issues we've seen from the explosive growth of the past decade."
The pattern of nodes of development amid wide expanses of green spaces can be seen on the new map in the East Edisto tract, which is being planned by MeadWestvaco on the western edge of the county and in Charleston County. About three-fourths of the 70,000 acres will remain rural.
The new map also shows the historic-overlay district council approved last year. The district limits density near the plantations along S.C. Highway 61 to preserve the rural ambience.
Property-rights advocates, landowners, builders and real-estate agents also were involved in theprocess, speaking up for their right to sell and build on their property, as well as pass it down to their children. During a public hearing before the vote, a number of residents praised the plan as a good compromise among all the interest groups.
"While the plan's not perfect, we want to stand here and commend you on the process you've taken to get here," said Sean Bennett, public policy chairman for the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce .
Council discussed concerns that the plan does not make it clear that families can subdivide rural land to pass it down to their children. They agreed to handle those concerns in the zoning ordinance that will follow the comprehensive plan.