Restore aesthetic sensibility to approaches to our city
I wanted to commend Capt. William Miles for his comprehensive letter about the need to find remedies to the unsightliness of our roadways and of many signs and buildings along them. It is appalling to have roads that lead into our beautiful city that are so unreflective of the beauty and history at our core.
St. Andrew's Public Service District, the cities of Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant, and the county government, together need to develop a comprehensive approach to problems of billboards. We must make the experience more livable and beautiful for those who travel our roadways. We need to agree upon and enforce standards for improving our urban spaces and stop allowing short-term commercial interests to control what we see every day.
Although the horse is out of the barn in terms of commercial and subdivision development, we could require that trees be planted, vast paved parking lots be fully screened from roadways, front yards of small houses that are converted to commercial use not be paved unless screened from view, and signs and billboards be controlled.
Underground wiring to prevent legal but horticulturally horrible butchery of handsome old trees along major roadways should be part of any plan.
We must find a way to restore aesthtetic sensibility -- curb appeal, if you will -- to critical approaches to peninsula Charleston. Roadways to historic properties such as Middleton Place, Drayton Hall, Magnolia Gardens, Boone Hall, the Charles Pinckney historic site and Charles Towne Landing must be made more appealing.
Commercial stretches of St. Andrew's Boulevard, once quite lovely, contain pockets of visual blight, such as a property full of rusting equipment. No one going to Charles Towne Landing or Middleton Place could miss this sight.
Soon all that will be left of our outlying historic sites will be the land they directly control.
Once the back way into Charleston via Summerville and past the plantations was beautiful all the way to Wappoo Road and was the choice way to approach the city. It isn't now. Likewise, the approach to Charleston on I-26 is marred by a hodgepodge of architectural styles, billboards and litter.
"You should do something about it," an Orangeburg resident recently said to me.
Obviously, I cannot do anything about it alone, but if enough citizens follow Capt. Miles' lead and ask for better governance in regard to our surroundings, maybe something can happen.
A comprehensive plan for remedying the damage done by incoherent and uncontrolled development along our once beautiful roadways and major entrances to the city is needed.
Nothing less will do the job.
In the meantime, we can start small: Get owners to clean up their property, get owners who pave their front yards to plant shrubbery as a screen, use existing zoning to result in better land use and architecture by developers of property, plant new trees wherever we can, support Charleston Trees in its efforts and ask community leaders to work toward higher standards for our suburban roadways and aesthetic environment.