A 40-foot-tall landscaped berm should be built to protect residents of Lake Palmetto Townhomes from noise and dust that they said Banks Construction sends their way, the North Charleston Planning Commission decided Monday.
After the vote, which goes to City Council as a recommendation on Sept. 11, a lawyer representing the homeowners said the issue needed more study.
"It's this sort of ad hockery that we don't think is constructive," said attorney Ross Appel.
Appel said the proposed solution to homeowner concerns could be a waste of time and money if it is not known ahead of time whether it will work. But he noted there are nearly two months for further discussion of the issue before the Council meeting.
Brian Hellman, an attorney representing Banks, said he had no comment on the Planning Commission vote.
Commission members Mark Kerce, Thomas Brinson and James Kramer voted yes to a Banks request for re-zoning of their property but required construction of the landscaped berm as a condition of approval. Sammie Douan voted no. Sue Thigpen, Joe McIntyre and Vernon Pryor were absent.
In the vote, Banks won approval of new zoning known as a planned development district as an alternative to heavy industrial zoning opposed by the homeowners. The company has an asphalt and cement operation on 35 acres off west Montague Avenue near the North Charleston Coliseum. The business is next to the lake-front townhomes.
"My client has met with the neighbors and we have come up with this (planned development)," Hellman told the commission. He said the new plan "tried to create the least amount of impact possible."
Homeowners complained to the Planning Commission that the business has grown so much in recent years that the sound from trucks and the dust from tall mounds has become a nuisance.
Homeowners Association President Michael Staten said noise, dust and vibration are the main problems. He said the situation keeps his infant from napping on Saturdays.
He said the planned development district needs to be better defined. Banks should be allowed to grow but not at the expense of the community, he said.
The situation came to a head recently when Banks proposed heavy industrial zoning for its business currently allowed as a "legal non-conforming use." A planned development district will allow existing operations to continue but impose more restrictions on new development than if the property is zoned for heavy industry, Banks said. Petroleum refineries, fertilizer processing and paper manufacturing would be banned. So would dance halls, taverns or clubs where alcohol is served and sexually-oriented businesses, the company said.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711