In Mount Pleasant, growth remains the dominant issue

Shem Creek, seen here from the air, is just one spot in Mount Pleasant where new and proposed development has stirred public opposition.

MOUNT PLEASANT - The new nonprofit group trying to slow the pace and density of this town's development will hold its first public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Outcry over development, such as The Boulevard apartments and a planned office and parking garage at Shem Creek, helped pack Mount Pleasant public meetings most of last year and promises to remain a hot topic in the new one. Town Council's response could shape its Nov. 3 elections, where four of eight council seats are up for grabs.

It even could trigger a special referendum on limiting the town's development.

"We understand growth has to occur. We just have to find that balance," said Jimmy Bagwell, a former town councilman and chair of Save Shem Creek. "I think what you're going to see is more push back from the community, and I think this will continue until the town recognizes that there is a great segment of the population opposed to their plans."

Mayor Linda Page recently announced plans to bring residents, developers and others together to try to reach a consensus on what should change in the town's zoning and growth policies. Town Council's Planning Committee is expected to discuss that process further when it meets next at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Page said there doesn't appear to be much support among council members to limit building permits - a tactic the town tried 15 years ago - but she said they are interested in reviewing policies that give developers extra density.

"We're going to get heavy into that, I'm sure," she said, adding the review of the town's growth and zoning will take several months. "We didn't get here overnight, and we're not going to answer all the questions overnight either."

Bagwell and others will watch how the town's review unfolds before deciding whether to try to get 15 percent of the town's electors to agree to a referendum on growth - a vote that could be held along with the town's Nov. 3 council elections.

"I think if it was taken to the public, I think we would see an overwhelming sentiment to slow this thing down," Bagwell said. Thursday's meeting will be at Moultrie Middle School.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.