MOUNT PLEASANT - A vote Tuesday to lower allowed building heights along Shem Creek from 55 feet to 45 feet won't affect a controversial planned office building and parking garage, town officials said.
Some residents left Tuesday's marathon Town Council meeting either unsure of the vote's effect or hopeful it meant the demise of the 54-foot building's plans, said Jim Owens, a leader of efforts to reduce development some fear would overpower Coleman Boulevard.
"There was a lot of uncertainty," agreed Brett Bennett, a member of the Old Village Historic District Commission who opposes Shem Creek building. "I had my fingers crossed."
However, the office building and garage, which includes a $2.8 million parking lease agreement with the town, is only a few architectural details shy of completing the planning approval process, Mayor Linda Page and other council members said.
"(The vote) will have no impact on the parking garage," Councilman Paul Gawrych said.
The zoning changes still must return to the town's Planning Commission and receive two readings by Town Council. That process likely will take weeks or even months.
The building's developer, Tex Small, hopes to break ground in October on the site at Coleman and Mill Street.
If adopted, the height allowance change would mean no future buildings on 10 properties along Shem Creek could be built higher than 45 feet, down from 55 feet today.
"At least future buildings won't be that tall," Page said.
A separate question remains whether Small will meet terms of the parking lease agreement with the town. He's said he will.
Under the lease agreement, the town would pay $185,000 a year in hotel taxes for 15 years and would receive fees paid by drivers to park there. After that, it will pay $1 per year for 15 years for the public parking.
Even without that agreement, Small still could build entirely with private funds, Page said.
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563 or follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes.
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