Mount Pleasant Town Council reached a sensible and intelligent compromise on Tuesday night. In voting to keep 75-foot height limits on select Coleman Boulevard properties while calling for lowered limits closer to Shem Creek, council moved to protect Mount Pleasant's historic and cultural districts while promoting a balanced, sustainable growth plan.
The town further demonstrated its commitment to empowering its residents by adopting a Planning Commission proposal that all new commercial developments be approved by the Commercial Design Review Board. The board will add an additional layer of scrutiny for new plans, helping ensure that growth is as tasteful, appropriate and practical as possible.
The council also addressed a more specific design concern that many have raised regarding The Boulevard apartment complex. A new regulation would require that developments in the affected areas along Coleman must set their highest points further back from the road.
Doing so should help prevent the "concrete canyon" effect that many have worried could result from increased building heights along the Coleman corridor.
Not everyone will be satisfied with council's actions. Many residents still feel strongly that dense construction along Coleman Boulevard is out of character with the area and unlikely to mitigate sprawl.
Their concerns have merit, and the town should proceed cautiously, knowing that decisions made now will have ramifications for decades to come. If the aesthetics and logistics of The Boulevard leave something to be desired, the town must work with developers to improve future plans. But the council is right to keep prudent growth options open rather than retreating.
Mount Pleasant residents should be applauded for their desire to preserve the elements that make the town unique and attractive. Shem Creek and the Old Village in particular are Lowcountry landmarks full of history and culture, and they deserve to be protected.
If two hours of public comments at Tuesday's standing room-only meeting are any indication, they are in good hands.
Council should also be commended for its responsiveness to constituents, and its resolve in standing up for a more sustainable long-term plan for the town.
As long as Mount Pleasant draws thousands of new residents from around the country each year, the growing pains will continue.
But the future looks bright if the town's leadership and its residents can continue to work together.
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