Mount Pleasant residents' top concern is traffic (copy) (copy)

A word cloud, built from more than 900 comments submitted to Mount Pleasant, highlights the most-mentioned concerns during a presentation on the town's Comprehensive Plan on Tuesday, Jan. 30 2018. File/David Slade/Staff

All that work for nothing.

A group of 41 Mount Pleasant residents spent more than a year painstakingly crafting a new road map for the town’s future. They sat through endless meetings, attended long community forums and compiled every statistic available about their hometown.

For instance, did you know that 21 percent of Mount Pleasant residents have advanced degrees? Impressive.

The result of this group’s labors is a comprehensive plan that calls for more affordable housing and outlines myriad ways to ease traffic congestion, manage flooding and create more parks. It is a monumental meditation on thoughtful ideas to make Mount Pleasant a better place to live and work.

It’s also dead on arrival. You see, the quasi-conservation group/not-in-my-backyard-naysayers known as Save Shem Creek doesn’t like the plan. And that bunch rules Mount Pleasant these days.

Jimmy Bagwell, chairman of Save Shem Creek, told The Post and Courier’s David Slade the comprehensive plan turned out just like they figured it would. He meant badly. “I think it leaves the door open to larger-scale development than most residents are looking for,” Bagwell said.

Of course, anyone casually acquainted with Mount Pleasant politics already knew what Save Shem Creek would think. After all, the plan suggests neighborhoods that include (gasp) mobile homes, shopping centers with parking garages (the horror) and advocates community hubs (which just sounds communistic).

The plan also notes that 1,300 new homes are being built now, with another 3,738 single-family homes, 707 townhouses, 488 condos and 590 apartment units approved but not yet under construction. How long before Save Shem Creek leans on the town to stop all that? Gentlemen, start your lawsuits ...

The plan estimates Mount Pleasant will be built out by 2040 when it has 50,400 homes and a population of somewhere between 105,000 and 117,000. Right now, there are 38,000 homes and nearly 90,000 residents. Which is about 30,000 homes and 80,000 people too many for some of these folks.

So, there is no way Mount Pleasant Town Council will ever approve such a heretic plan, even though state law mandates they adopt such a document once a decade.

Fact is, they could have saved those 41 people a lot of time, effort and brain cells if the town had simply bought the Hulk a crayon and let him write the plan: NO GROWTH! GO AWAY! TOWN STAY SAME! Because that’s pretty much what the Save Shem Creekers want.

In most places, such unrealistic expectations would be dismissed as crotchety rantings along the lines of “you kids get off my lawn.” But in Mount Pleasant, those sentiments may prevail.

Talk to developers and they’ll tell you these days the town is one big pain in the asphalt. And it’s all done in the name of keeping Save Shem Creek happy. As an example, Mount Pleasant recently offered to extend sewer lines beyond its corporate limits for Snowden — which was a nice gesture. But when the owners of a shopping center on Coleman Boulevard, but outside town limits, asked for the same, they heard a different story.

That’s because the shopping center owners wanted to build an apartment complex on the site ... which was in the town’s last comprehensive plan.

These days, other developers say, it takes forever to get anything done in Mount Pleasant, that you can’t count on anyone to do what they say — and the rules seem to change daily.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with the town’s employees. They’re great folks doing the best they can with what they have to work with. And what they have to work with is elected officials who don’t want to manage growth — they want to stop it. Because that’s what Save Shem Creek wants.

So, by the time Town Council gets finished ripping objectionable sections out of the comprehensive plan, that 387-page road map to the future will probably cross the finish line at a svelte 12 pages.

It will do nothing to ease traffic, because few who work in Mount Pleasant shops or restaurants can afford to live there, and it won’t stop growth because, well, that’s inevitable. And 41 people will have spent more than a year making the most detailed, complex doorstop Town Hall employees have ever seen.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.