MOUNT PLEASANT - Town Council will discuss several growth-related issues Tuesday that have drawn the ire of residents who fear the town is urbanizing too fast and jeopardizing the town's character.
Town officials generally have supported plans to create more urban corridors along Coleman, Ben Sawyer and Johnnie Dodds boulevards as a way to encourage and manage growth. Some residents, however, recently have objected to those plans, particularly along Coleman Boulevard and near Shem Creek.
Town Council meets at 6 p.m. and will address, among other issues:
Whether to reduce a 75-foot height allowance on three properties along Coleman Boulevard that some residents say would overwhelm the road and create too much new traffic.
Whether to reduce a 55-foot height allowance to 40 feet from Mill Street to Shem Creek where a developer's plans to build a 54-foot parking garage and office building have generated controversy.
Whether to require commercial developments go before the town's Commercial Design Review Board. Now, developers can take their plans only to town staff if they choose. Mayor Linda Page has pushed the change partly because the review board holds public meetings that would open up the process earlier to concerned residents.
Whether to direct the town's staff not to discuss or make any changes to a public-private parking license agreement with developer Tex Small until he formally indicates he can meet its terms to build the office building and parking garage near Shem Creek. The town recently changed setback requirements, which some town officials say make it unfeasible for Small to meet the agreements. Small disagreed and likely will submit formal plans later this week.
Under the lease agreement, the town would pay $185,000 a year in hotel taxes for 15 years, or nearly $2.8 million total for the public parking and would receive back fees paid by drivers to park there. The building is an approved use of the property, so Small still could move forward with it on his own.
These are issues residents have asked the council to consider, Councilman Chris O'Neal said.
"My hope is that we have good discussion and take action as necessary," O'Neal said. "From there, I hope we can move forward from this important development issue with a renewed focus on many of the critical items before us like our road and infrastructure projects, recreation department, and need for new schools."
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563 or follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes.
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