HICKS COLUMN: Mount Pleasant had little choice on Oyster Point
It certainly wasn’t an ideal scene for an idyllic place like Mount Pleasant.
Earlier this week, a lot of folks from the Six Mile community showed up for a Town Council meeting to protest the development of Oyster Point — a new subdivision that will have nearly 600 new homes off Rifle Range Road.
Six Mile residents said the additional traffic would have a horrendous effect on their community and they did not want it out there. They booed the town traffic engineer and made a lot of pointed comments about their government. They said this subdivision would destroy Six Mile.
The subtext here is that Six Mile is the one predominantly black community in the East Cooper town, and council’s approval was somewhat insensitive to those folks and the Gullah-Geechee Corridor.
That’s a fair point, and one worth raising.
But it overlooks one crucial little fact:
Mount Pleasant didn’t have much choice here.
It’s about control
Right now, it feels like midtown Manhattan on Rifle Range Road, what with all the people cutting through to avoid the migraine that is Highway 17 under construction.
And there is little doubt that this development, tentatively approved and headed for a final OK next month, is going to make traffic worse.
But the town was playing defense here.
Fact is, people have property rights. The owner has a right to sell that land and develop it. And he could have done it while keeping that property in the county — and Mount Pleasant couldn’t have done diddly-squat about it.
But now, with the land annexed into Mount Pleasant, the town will have a little leverage over what goes on out there. That’s why Councilwoman Thomasena Stokes-Marshall, who opposed the development, voted to go along with the annexation.
“We didn’t want the county to control this,” says Councilman Elton Carrier. “The developer wouldn’t have to jump through the hoops that we will make him go through. And I think the developer is conscientious.”
Those hoops will include some road improvements.
Will it be ideal? No, it won’t be. There is going to be horrible traffic in Mount Pleasant until someone invents flying cars.
But it could be worse.
Cow out of the barn
Right now, Mount Pleasant is the fourth-largest city in the state.
Within 10 years, the town is probably looking at a population of more than 75,000 people — maybe even 85,000. That’s the problem with living in a nice place: Everyone wants in.
The bottom line is the development ship has sailed for Mount Pleasant. The town could have stuck to its guns on the development moratorium of the previous decade, and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference here. Oyster Point would have been developed as a county subdivision and the town would have had all the headaches and no say.
All this is not to say that it’s time to throw up hands and throw in the towel.
Instead, it would be a good time to make a gesture to do something to protect Six Mile.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.