Mobile home park development delayed

A developer is seeking permission from North Charleston to build a shopping center on this portion of The Gables at Charleston mobile home park, at Ashley Phosphate Road and Patriot Boulevard.

A development plan that would require more than two dozen families to move in order to build a shopping center, has been delayed after North Charleston council members expressed concern.

At issue is an application to rezone part of The Gables of Charleston mobile home park, at Patriot Boulevard and Ashley Phosphate Road. The North Charleston Planning Commission was expected to take up the question at a meeting Sept. 9 but the request has now been withdrawn, according to city officials.

The development plan was the subject of a story Saturday in The Post and Courier, and North Charleston council members Ron Brinson, Ed Astle and Dwight Stigler toured The Gables the same day. After the council members spoke with residents, Brinson urged the developers to postpone their rezoning request.

“The bottom line is, this is private property and those folks have every right to plan a development and apply to the city for zoning changes,” Brinson said. “But I haven’t seen any project that’s less ready for public dialogue.”

He said residents of the section of the mobile home park that’s being eyed for development have been told little about their options, or any details behind a promise of financial compensation from the developer.

Brinson said residents of The Gables that he spoke with included a man who used to serve with him on the Fort Dorchester High School PTA, who’s lived at the park for 23 years. The Gables used to be called Saddlebrook, until it was purchased last year by Yes! Communities of Denver, which owns manufactured home communities across the U.S.

The application for a zoning change was filed by WRS, a Mount Pleasant real estate company. Repeated attempts since Friday to interview company officials have been unsuccessful, and Yes! has not responded to a message seeking comment.

Brinson’s North Charleston City Council district includes The Gables. Brinson said he has not taken a position on the zoning, but he thinks the zoning change shouldn’t be considered until residents fully understand what’s going on.

He said the developer is expected to organize community meetings, likely this week.

“It seems to me that the developer hasn’t taken the time to talk to the community,” said Stigler, one of the council members who toured The Gables with Brinson. “A lot of the residents have a lot of concern about turning part of their neighborhood into a shopping center.”

Many residents own their mobile homes and rent the land. Moving such a home can cost thousands of dollars, and moving could also mean no longer being in the Dorchester 2 School District.

Stigler and Brinson said a number of residents told them they live at The Gables so that their children can attend Dorchester 2 schools, and some have lived there for decades.

“My initial reaction is ‘no’ on the rezoning,” said Astle, the third councilman who toured the property.

Eventually, the zoning question is expected to come back to the city Planning Commission and ultimately to City Council, where Stigler said Brinson’s position will be key to the outcome.

“As a council, we typically go with what the council member thinks we should do in their district,” Stigler said.

Brinson said it seems clear that if the city approves a zoning change, 29 homes will be eliminated.

“I’m not taking a position for it or against it,” Brinson said Tuesday. “I am taking a position that they have to do a much better job of letting people know what’s going on.”

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.