Mount Pleasant building height controversy heard but not resolved

The Boulevard apartments changed the landscape on Mount Pleasant’s Coleman Boulevard and prompted a backlash against building height rules.

MOUNT PLEASANT — The controversy over the height of buildings allowed along Coleman and Ben Sawyer boulevards was hashed out at a Town Council committee meeting Monday, which ended without a recommendation for change.

Councilman Gary Santos, who would like to slash the building height limit to three stories along the boulevards, had called for the meeting.

Current rules allow for 55-foot buildings in most boulevard locations and 75-foot buildings on three properties — the Moultrie Plaza and Sea Island shopping centers, and the site that’s become home to The Boulevard apartments. A backlash against those rules erupted after The Boulevard was constructed in 2013, and Town Council scaled back height allowances in some areas last year.

Nearly two dozen people addressed the council’s Planning and Development Committee at the meeting Monday afternoon, with about a third of them calling for lower building height limits.

“Please lower the heights, and don’t let any development encroach on our neighborhood,” Old Village resident Barbara Smith told the committee.

Business owners, and in some cases their attorneys, joined former members of the Coleman Revitalization Advisory Board in supporting the current rules, which grew from a plan to re-imagine the boulevards as an urban downtown.

“If we can’t do it in the business district of the fourth largest city (in South Carolina), then where?” said George Brewer, a partner in the Moultrie Plaza shopping center.

And some called on council members to work together and come up with a more comprehensive vision for the town.

“We cannot build a wall around the town and say ‘no more people’,” said Snee Farm resident Pat Sullivan. “We need to look at where we want the growth and what we want it to look like.”

The four-member committee — council members Bob Brimmer, Joe Bustos, Paul Gawrych and Mark Smith — discussed the height issue but made no recommendation beyond sending it back to Town Council with a suggestion to consider the town’s comprehensive planning efforts.

“I’m not saying no change is needed, but I don’t think this is the forum, and we need to take a more comprehensive look,” Brimmer said.

Following the meeting, Santos said he plans to call for a vote on his proposal to limit buildings on the boulevards to three stories, no more than 45 feet tall. He wouldn’t speculate on his chance for success.

“I don’t do things because I know they will pass or not pass, I put things up there because they are important to the public,” Santos said. “I don’t count votes.”

Reach David Slade at (843) 937-5552 or