Charleston City Council is poised to approve the West Ashley Master Plan on Tuesday, a key decision that will formalize the vision for West Ashley's future and the specific steps the city must take to realize it. The plan lays out 166 tasks for the city and other jurisdictions to accomplish long-term and in the near future.
The plan is one of the first goals Mayor John Tecklenburg set after taking office in 2016. Dover, Kohl & Partners — a national planning firm from Coral Gables, Fla. — was hired to study West Ashley and create its first master plan. The 19-member West Ashley Revitalization Commission guided the process during the past year and will continue to oversee how it's carried out.
The highly detailed strategy aims to improve the outdated parts of town while also setting a new course for future developments.
Several West Ashley council members said they expected the plan to pass, while community leaders said Monday they're more focused on what will happen after it's adopted.
Teresa Tidestrom, a founder of the community group West Ashley United, said she wants to see consistent coordination between governments, residents and business owners on infrastructure improvements.
"It’s going to take us all. It’s the only way it’s going to happen," she said.
Others said the first priority should be adopting new land use policies to ensure new developments align with the plan's vision.
"It’s up to City Council to start enacting new laws to ensure West Ashley grows the way the community identifies that it should grow, as spelled out in this plan, so it doesn’t just sit on the shelf and collect dust," said Jason Crowley of the Coastal Conservation League.
Councilman Mike Seekings agreed.
"The best thing the city can do for West Ashley or any area of the city is to make sure that the zoning we have in place fits with long-term planning so that communities like West Ashley can thrive. That’s our job," he said.
The planning department is ready to start work on those changes, said City Planner Jacob Lindsey.
"This would be a directive from City Council for us to improve the development of West Ashley immediately," he said.
Also Tuesday, City Council will consider a building moratorium on Johns Island largely because a master plan for its development was never fully implemented after it was adopted in 2007.
Lindsey said the West Ashley plan won't face the same challenges because it outlines exactly what needs to be done to implement it. The commission, with representatives of Charleston County and the St. Andrews Public Services District, will continue meeting to prioritize those goals.
"Formalizing the vision will hold everyone accountable for the plan’s implementation," he said. "The plan really calls for everyone to work together to make West Ashley a better place, and ultimately the city has to lead that effort."