Learn from neighbors in Cainhoy

  • Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013 12:01 a.m.

The standing-room-only crowd of 150 people that turned out Tuesday to see developers’ plans for Cainhoy Plantation on Clements Ferry Road had questions about how those plans would impact nearby rural communities, traffic, the area’s culture and history, and the natural environment.

They didn’t get firm answers — the particulars aren’t yet decided. All that is definite now is that the 9,000-acre Cainhoy Plantation tract will be based on a Daniel Island-like concept including residential, commercial and industrial uses.

But the concerns expressed about the development of Cainhoy Plantation can provide the developers with valuable insights and guide them in the long run.

As designers and planners add details, the voices of neighbors, environmentalists and historians should be instructive.

For example, the preliminary concept is to use the part of the property across the road from the Francis Marion National Forest for industry. Environmentalists like Jake Libaire, land use project manager for the Coastal Conservation League, contend that isn’t the best use of that spot. Industrial activity could disturb the animal life in the adjacent forest. And conversely, controlled burning programs in the forest could pose problems for nearby development.

Besides, they say, having the vast, lush forest just across the road would be an attractive feature for residents. The forest should be invited into the site instead of blocked off from it.

Much of the traditional community is comprised of heirs property handed down from generation to generation. It has a rich history and culture. But they are in danger of becoming the victims of development.

That threat — and the other concerns voiced at the meeting — should worry city of Charleston planning commission and City Council, which are soon to consider a zoning application for the property. It ought be a serious concern to developers as well.

Cainhoy Plantation is not Everywhere USA. Many people who elect to live or work in the development will likely appreciate those differences and prefer that its assets be protected.

Mr. Libaire says that development closest to existing communities should be less dense out of respect for the neighbors. And it ought to include cottages that neighbors can afford to buy, he said.

Other suggestions: rely on narrow roads, use solar energy, provide for rain gardens, build structures with materials and practices that have the least impact on the environment, and use porous material instead of impervious concrete to reduce runoff.

Good neighbors make a home more valuable to its owners. Being a good neighbor should be a priority for Cainhoy Plantation developers as they move forward with their ambitious plan.

City Council’s support should be contingent on it.

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