MOUNT PLEASANT — Should a commercial parcel at the entrance to the Rivertowne subdivision contain a Sunoco gas station, or would such a business bring undesirable effects on its neighbors?
That’s the question a town zoning board is expected to grapple with — and decide — Monday.
Town Councilman Chris O’Neal, who lives nearby, said he expects “a full room.”
Hugh Walling, a Rivertowne resident, said he has been trying to rally his neighbors to oppose the change because he said a gas station would bring congestion and safety problems.
“It’s the only entrance into and out of Rivertowne,” which has several hundred homes, he said. “If they were to have a problem at the gas station, which blocked traffic, they wouldn’t be able to get emergency vehicles further into Rivertowne, and folks could not get out.”
He said he also is concerned about crime, as two nearby gas stations have been robbed in recent months.
O’Neal, who said he is not trying to influence the town’s zoning board, said he understands those concerns. “The flip side for the developer is that if they’re meeting all the requirements of the neighborhood commercial, is it proper for the town or its Board of Zoning Appeals to say this shouldn’t be allowed?”
The corner parcel at Rivertowne’s entrance and S.C. Highway 41 is zoned for neighborhood commercial, but Rivertowne’s zoning states gas stations are permitted only as a conditional use, town planning director Christiane Farrell said. As a result, the Board of Zoning Appeals must give its OK.
The board will consider several issues, she said.
These include: Do the plans have a suitable buffer to protect nearby properties; does the plan hinder traffic or pedestrian movement; is the proposed use compatible with existing uses so as not to harm the general area.
Farrell said the board can do more than vote yes or no, it can attach conditions. “They could say yes, but we’re going to make you put in a bigger buffer or limit your hours of operation,” she said.
Mount Pleasant’s meeting Monday comes just days after plans for another Sunoco gas station stirred controversy in North Charleston. In that case, City Council rejected a planned Sunoco gas station for Fernwood Drive in the Deer Park neighborhood.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.