MOUNT PLEASANT -- Snee Farm resident Christina Oxford worries about traffic, noise, light pollution and security if plans for a big shopping complex across from Towne Centre are approved and the project is built.
"I'm not happy about it," she said.
She is concerned that the proposed 400,000-square-foot development on 40 acres will hasten the loss of what makes Mount Pleasant special.
"Really, we're going to look like more of a Rivers Avenue than we are Mount Pleasant. I think we can be a little more particular," she said.
A developer has submitted an application at Town Hall that mentions the possibility of new "big-box" stores, such as Home Depot and Sam's Club, at "The Gregg Tract."
The tract is surrounded by subdivisions, such as Montclair, Snee Farm, Wando Lakes and Wando East.
Janet Rowe, property manager at Wando East, said the development would give the area the look of Myrtle Beach and create "unbelievable" traffic problems. When leaving work, it is impossible to turn left on Mathis Ferry Road, she said.
"I just don't think this is what we need in Mount Pleasant," she said.
Doug Wilgus, president of the Wando Lakes Homeowners Association, said that a "big-box" store is an undesirable neighbor, and he worried about night-time noise from 18-wheelers and clanging trash bins.
"Rush hour, it's already impossible," he said of traffic.
Some 12,500 more vehicle trips would happen daily during the week, and the shopping center would have parking for 1,500 cars, according to the project application.
The developer, Henrich Properties, had no response Tuesday to the residents' concerns. Henrich issued a statement Thursday regarding its plans that said it is currently under contract for the purchase of the Gregg Tract for retail and restaurant business totaling 400,000 square feet.
The company has been communicating directly with neighborhood associations to keep them informed, it said.
Henrich, based in Mount Pleasant, said it is working on the project with Ceruzzi Holdings of Fairfield, Conn.
The project application describes measures that will be taken to limit light and noise pollution, and it talks about how the development fits with the goals of the town's comprehensive plan.
"Within the Comprehensive Plan, eight overall themes are identified, and this project successfully addresses goals and strategies from each," it states.
In 2004, Snee Farm residents opposed a Walmart Supercenter at the same location because of the traffic it would bring. The developer withdrew the application in the face of public opposition and lack of Town Council support.
The location for the development is the shopping heart of town. The application to develop The Gregg Tract is scheduled to be considered at the Planning Commission meeting Feb. 22. The firm seeks business zoning for the property, which is currently zoned for residential uses.
More than 80 people have signed an online petition (www.change.org/petitions/no-biggie) in opposition to the project that expresses concerns about increased traffic and crime if the shopping complex is built. It also said "big-time" retailers defeat local business owners.
"Please, do not bring in these retail giants. Focus on improving the local industry, schools and the environment," it said.
The application submitted at Town Hall does not identify specific businesses that would occupy the shopping center. A traffic analysis in the document assumes they include a home improvement superstore and a discount club.
The developer said the $35 million project would create an estimated 260 full-time jobs and generate $235 million in annual sales.
Home Depot has yet to come to Mount Pleasant, which also does not have a Costco or Sam's Club.
The project would be constructed in phases based on economic and market conditions. It is anticipated that it will take about five years to complete. Construction of the first phase is expected to begin this summer, according to the application.