Mount Pleasant Town Council votes 5-4 against Gregg Tract big box zoning restrictions
MOUNT PLEASANT — In a 5-4 vote before a packed house tonight, Town Council voted to change the zoning code in a way that opponents feared will pave the way for “big box” development across from Towne Centre.
At issue was a provision in the code that the ground floor of a building, the “footprint,” is limited to 70,000 square feet if it is part of a project on less than 50 acres. In earlier votes, that limit was upheld by the Planning Commission and the Council Planning Committee.
But today, a majority of Council voted to scrap the limit in a first reading ballot. A second, final reading vote will be required at another Council meeting.
Voting no were Council members Thomasena Stokes-Marshall, Linda Page, Elton Carrier and Chris Nickels.
Many saw the vote as a ballot on the future of the Gregg Tract and the Henrich Properties development planned there called Towne Square. It is on fewer than 50 acres of land and includes two buildings of more than 100,000 square feet.
If all goes as planned, one will be a home improvement store and the other will be a wholesale retailer. The third 50,000-square-foot building would be a sporting goods store.
Company President Ben Henrich said the project will improve drainage, create hundreds of jobs and fill town coffers with millions of dollars in new revenue.
The Planning Commission and Town Council last July deleted the provision from the zoning code that would prohibit the two biggest buildings because it was deemed antiquated, but it was discovered recently to also exist in another part of the code. For that reason, the commission and council were asked by town staff to delete the newly discovered provision to make the zoning code consistent.
The Planning Commission and Council Planning Committee refused to make the change during meetings in the past two weeks.
The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors supported removing the provision in the town zoning code regarding limits on big box development.
“If you continue with the current burdensome regulation, the town will be promoting urban sprawl, creating unnecessary barriers to new development and promoting a standard that has no rational basis within the real estate industry,” the organization’s president, Herbert Koger Jr., said in a letter to Mayor Billy Swails.
The town now has two Walmarts, a K-Mart and a Lowe’s.