Neighbors to fight peninsula project Plan to crowd Planning Commission meeting on Sgt. Jasper redevelopment

The city’s Planning Commission on Wednesday will consider whether to allow the Beach Co.’s plan for the Sergeant Jasper Property to move forward.

Neighborhood residents plan to storm the city’s first public meeting on the Beach Co.’s plan to redevelop the Sergeant Jasper site, which they think is too dense and will generate far too much traffic for the peninsula’s historic district.

The Charleston Planning Commission on Wednesday will consider whether to amend the city’s Century V plan, which was approved in 2011 and governs land use, to allow the residential and commercial development near Colonial Lake the company is proposing. It also will consider a request to change the 6.4-acre property’s zoning to a planned unit development. That sort of zoning lays out a plan for the entire development.

The company’s plan so far has met with massive resistance from nearby neighborhood residents and the Preservation Society of Charleston. Detractors packed a meeting in the auditorium at the Charleston Museum last week to learn about the city’s zoning process and how it relates to the development.

The Beach Co.’s plan for the site, where the 14-story apartment building now stands, includes:

Demolishing the building and parking area, which was built in 1950 and comprises 3.2 acres of the site.

Building three new buildings along Broad Street, two of them four stories tall and a third that is four stories along the street and seven stories in the center. The new development’s footprint covers 6.4 acres.

A mix of 454 one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

About 700 parking spaces in a parking garage and under some of the buildings, one for each bedroom in the development.

A park on Barre Street, which would be open to the public.

A grocery store up to 35,000 square feet, which might be open 24 hours a day.

Now there are only 221 residential units, 17,000 square feet of nonresidential space, and 180 parking spaces on the site.

Frank Rupp, president of the Harleston Village Neighborhood Association, said residents object to the plan because it is too dense and incompatible with Harleston Village, a low-density area comprising many duplexes. And it will increase traffic congestion, he said.

The Beach Co. conducted its own traffic study, Rupp said. “But we don’t take it as the gospel truth.”

The study suggests that because the development will be within walking distance of the Medical University of South Carolina, the College of Charleston and the city’s central business district along King Street, many people who live there will walk or bike to work.

Rupp said many neighborhood residents don’t believe that.

Kent Johnson, the Beach Co.’s vice president for development, said he thinks many people will walk and bike to work. But they still will own cars, he said.

The company is confident it can provide adequate, on-site parking, he said, so it will agree to making residents ineligible for city permits to park in surrounding neighborhoods.

Kristopher King, executive director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, said his organization agrees with neighborhood residents. “If you have to rezone a property, amend the zoning ordinance, and change the city’s comprehensive plan, that seems to indicate that perhaps they are requesting something incompatible with the area.”

The society earlier this month issued a warning to residents that the Beach Co.’s plan for the area on Broad Street includes intense development that’s not appropriate for the historic area, and that the process by which the city plans to evaluate and approve the proposal would limit public input.

Johnson said the company has gone to great lengths to get public input. He has made eight presentations since September to interested parties.

And, he said, the public can comment at the Planning Commission meeting and at City Council meetings.

Tim Keane, the city’s planning director, said the city hasn’t decided whether it will recommend approval of the proposal.

The Planning Commission will forward a recommendation to City Council, the group that ultimately will decide whether the project can move forward, he said.

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.