The air conditioning broke but that didn't slow a heated debate Tuesday night over whether commercial growth is a good thing on a mile-long, mostly residential stretch of Folly Road.
The majority of people who spoke at the muggy, crowded Sons of Elijah Masonic Lodge on Folly Road said they favored keeping the rural flavor of the section of four-lane highway between Grimball Road and Battery Island Drive.
"I do not want a service station next to me. I don't want a motel. We would like to keep it residential," said Sandra Tisdale.
Some said they worried about higher property taxes and their ability to pass homes on to the next generation.
"No commercial. Please, no commercial," said Darrel Richardson.
But others countered with the advantages of allowing commercial development. Children would have an easier time selling the real estate, said Wilburn Gilliard.
"Someone has created fear among us," he said.
Greg Payton said land zoned for commercial use could be leased to help pay for college. "What is proposed here is a choice. Maintain your choice and do what you will with it (property)," he said.
Some 15 speakers addressed the crowd. Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor presided over the forum. Council members Colleen Condon, Joe Qualey and Anna Johnson also attended.
The Council is scheduled to decide the issue at its 6:30 p.m. meeting on May 20 when it votes on whether to grant final approval of neighborhood preservation zoning for properties along the road.
The area now has commercial transitional zoning that allows buildings up to 5,000 square-feet such as professional offices, retailers, schools, pawn shops, a pharmacy or bar.
Neighborhood preservation zoning provides for the same size general retail and professional office buildings but only in certain areas. It prohibits auto dealers, motels, fast food restaurants and service stations.
As an alternative, Johnson recently proposed more growth-friendly neighborhood commercial zoning, which prompted the hearing Tuesday to gauge the feeling of residents.
Johnson's proposal would allow more commercial uses such as a motel or hotel of up to 10 beds. It would also prohibit trash and merchandise pickup and delivery to businesses between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.. New rules would be in effect for outdoor amplified music.
Johnson said that she wants to give residents more options for their property.
"I am giving the people in my district a chance to think for themselves," she said.
About 75 people attended the meeting.
The Council will accept more public comment on the issue at its May 20 meeting at the Lonnie Hamilton Public Services Building in North Charleston.
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