Mount Pleasant Planning Commission upholds big box limits
MOUNT PLEASANT — The town Planning Commission upheld limits on “big box” retailers Wednesday night after it heard from more than a dozen people who supported keeping the restrictions.
The residents said they feared scrapping the prohibition would pave the way for large retailers on The Gregg Tract across from Town Centre and possibly in other locations.
“It’s changing the character of Mount Pleasant. We don’t want any more big box stores,” said Amy Hardee.
David Meek noted that the town has two Walmarts, a Kmart and a Lowe’s.
“It is a protection for us. We don’t need more development in our backyard,” said Ted Summerford.
The commission’s 6-2 vote keeps a section in the town code put there in 1996 that limits a retailer to 70,000 square feet unless a project is on more than 50 acres.
Zoning official Kent Prause said that the restriction was in two places in the town code.
The Planning Commission and Town Council voted to eliminate the restriction last summer in one section of the code, Prause said.
But town staff recently discovered the restriction was still intact in a different section and recommended that it, too, be deleted to make town law on the issue consistent, Prause said.
Commission member Cheryl Woods-Flowers voted in favor of keeping the big box store limit in place.
“It is not a good time for the town of Mount Pleasant to have these big boxes,” she said.
The commission vote on the issue Wednesday keeps the restriction on big box stores intact, even thought it was previously deleted in another section of the code, Prause said.
Chairman Roy Neal and Vice Chairman Todd Richardson cast the dissenting votes.
Neal said his vote was based on a town staff recommendation to make the town ordinances consistent by eliminating the big box retailer rule, as was already done in another section of the town code.
The commission vote goes to the council in the form of a recommendation.
Henrich Properties has announced plans to put big box stores on the Gregg Tract across from Towne Centre. Residents of surrounding neighborhoods have voiced concerns about the development hurting their neighborhoods because of increased traffic and noise, among other issues.
In light of a wave of public opposition to the project, the developer withdrew its application to the town recently. It is retooling the project and working to better address neighborhood concerns, said Ben Henrich, company president.
Under current rules, Henrich cannot submit another application for the same project for a year unless he receives a waiver from the town concerning that rule. Or he can submit a different project and not be bound by the wait rule.
Woods-Flowers said she was glad to have the opportunity to change her vote on the issue. She supported getting rid of the big box rules last spring but said she was uncomfortable with her vote afterward.