MOUNT PLEASANT — A proposal before the Planning Commission this afternoon has some residents worried that recently withdrawn plans for a big, new shopping center across from Towne Centre are still very much alive.
At issue is a proposed change to the town zoning code.
Snee Farm resident Pat Sullivan worries that the change, which deletes part of the zoning code dating to 1996, is setting the stage for more “big box” store shopping center applications from developers.
“In all my talking around Mount Pleasant, everyone thinks the Gregg Tract and ‘big box’ issue has been put to bed for a year. Not the case at all,” Sullivan wrote in an email.
Because of public opposition, a developer recently withdrew an application to put nearly 400,000 square feet of commercial, retail and restaurants on 40 acres across from Towne Centre. The town said the developer is not allowed to resubmit the same application for a year. The area where the development would be built, if approved, is known as The Gregg Tract.
The commission meets at 5 p.m. at Town Hall. Its agenda includes the item, “Proposal to amend the Mount Pleasant Zoning Code by repealing in its entirety Section 156.055(C)(2)(c) 11, pertaining to structure footprint size for buildings located in a Commercial Village.”
“The agenda is not comprehensible,” Sullivan said.
A link to the agenda item at the town website provides some background and explanation.
“In July 2011, Town Council approved final reading of an ordinance that removed Section 156.103, Special Requirements Based on Project Size. With the removal of this code section it was the intent to remove a requirement originally implemented in 1996 that provided that footprints of any individual commercial structure would be limited to 70,000 square feet unless the project area exceeded 50 acres. This previous text amendment was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission in May of 2011 and approved by Council last July.”
Due to an oversight, the footprint limitation and minimum acreage requirement still appears in Section 156.055, Development Patterns for Commercial Villages. “The purpose of this current text amendment is to provide for consistency with the intent of the previously approved text amendment,” it says.
Sullivan said the change before the commission is not just about The Gregg Tract and its future but applies to other parts of the town when it comes to the future of “big box” stores locating east of the Cooper.
“This is just one less thing that any developer would have to have to move forward. We think that they’re trying to pull a fast one. We don’t want to turn into another North Charleston,” she said.
Zoning official Kent Prause said he met with Sullivan to discuss her concerns. The two sections of the zoning codes relating to big commercial developments that are being changed reflect another time in the town’s history.
“We felt that perhaps the sentiment among folks in the town had changed,” he said.
There are other ways to manage big box development than the restrictions in the two sections of the code, including the one that has been deleted and the one up for consideration for deletion, officials said.
The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to Town Council on the issue.