Residents air concerns about planned Cainhoy development

Residents affected by the pending development of more than 5,000 acres around Cainhoy Plantation — the largest potential land project in Charleston’s history — on Wednesday asked for the effort to slow down so that more voices can be heard on what the changes may bring.

Advocacies from the Audubon Society to historic preservationists and locals concerned about family heritage showed up at Charleston’s Planning Commission where they said more idea-sharing time is needed.

“Our concern is, our way of living is going to vastly change,” said Aaron Green of the nearby Jack Primus community. “Our parents and grandparents worked on the plantation out there.”

Members of the late Harry Frank Guggenheim family are envisioning a planned urban development that would create a mixed-use of residences, schools, businesses parks and other amenities for the 5,000-acre-plus site on the south side of Clements Ferry Road. It would take decades to build.

While the development has been publicly disclosed for a while, Wednesday was the first time the idea was taken in front of the city’s planning commission. No vote was taken as the package was presented as information from the developer.

During the meeting no one found fault with the bigger scope of what the Guggenheim’s envision for the land that’s located north of Interstate 526 above Daniel Island. But some of the more than 60 who attended raised a variety of concerns over the traffic, housing, wildlife and how centuries of local history will be preserved and protected.

“The density scares me to death,” said Mount Pleasant resident Pat Sullivan, who added the development won’t just affect locals around Cainhoy but also its neighbors in Mount Pleasant, as cars come and go.

The property has been in the Guggenheim family for 80 years. It is in both the City of Charleston and Berkeley County.

Matt Sloan, who is representing the landowners, said the group will continue to meet with as many interested residents and parties that request input.

“We’ll know when the time is right to come back” to the planning body for approval, he said.

Others at the meeting spoke in endorsement of the Guggenheims, saying they have a history of siding with projects that take into account local sensitivities.

“This property could not be in better hands,” said Frank Brumley, chairman and CEO of the Daniel Island Co., which is not connected to the Cainhoy project, although Guggenheim was part of the first Daniel Island development.

No timetable was set on when the project will be formally submitted to the planning commission, but members of the board suggested a field trip to the site might be warranted to better gauge the lay of the land.

Commission Chairman Frank McCann also said the stakes are high. “What happens in this property might be our legacy,” he said.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551

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