Boeing site clears rezoning hurdle

North Charleston City Council on Thursday approved a rezoning request by Boeing Co. to develop 466 acres, including the former Trailwood mobile home park (foreground). Boeing's 787 assembly site is in the upper left.

Boeing Co. received clearance this week to rezone 466 acres near Charleston International Airport, a move that will enable the 787 manufacturer to expand its already sizable footprint in the area.

North Charleston City Council on Thursday unanimously voted to rezone the mostly undeveloped property the airplane-maker acquired in December between International Boulevard and Dorchester Road.

The land, which Boeing leases from the state Commerce Department's Palmetto Railways, had five different zoning classifications, from multifamily residential to light industrial.

It's now in a planned development district to give the company as much flexibility as it needs. Potenial uses include aircraft manufacturing and small shops and services.

"We're pleased with the city's approval of our rezoning request," Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said. "While we have no plans for the property, other than the land clearing for the paint facility that will be under construction soon, and perhaps some additional teammate parking, this rezoning provides Boeing with the future flexibility to potentially develop the land to meet any long-term business needs we may have."

Nearly 80 of the 466 acres are set aside to make airplanes. The biggest chunk - 182 acres - will be used for autombile parking and buffer areas. Aircraft parking and movement as well as parts housing would comprise 126 acres. The rest of the site will be used for stormwater ponds and office space.

In its rezoning application, Boeing pointed out the acreage uses are conceptual and could change. If that happens, it will have to come back to the city to revise the approved plan, Mayor Keith Summey said,

Land uses on the site could include administration, production, sales, development, distribution, human resources, legal counsel and services from subcontractors.

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A planned development district could also include coffee shops or cafeterias, dry-cleaning pickup services, child day care, fitness facilities, barbershops and salons, newsstands and gift and convenience stores, transit stops, postal facilities, office supply stores and travel agencies.

They could be included within Boeing buildings or be free-standing structures. Residential development is prohibited.

Boeing received approval last month from the Army Corps of Engineers for its wetlands mitigation plan, clearing the way for development. About 153 acres of the property are wetlands, much of that created by phosphate mining on the site early in the past century.

The first parcel being developed is the site of the new dual-bay hangar on International Boulevard, where Boeing will paint completed Dreamliners for customers. That building is scheduled for completion in 2016. Currently, Boeing must fly its South Carolina-made 787s to either Texas or California for their paint jobs and then return them to North Charleston for delivery.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or