A controversial Cainhoy peninsula zoning dispute was settled Tuesday by Charleston City Council, but people on both sides agree that the real fight has yet to begin.

At issue was how Charleston should zone 4.4 acres of riverfront land in Cainhoy Village that was annexed into the city in the fall of 2008.

Zoning determines how land can be used, and for annexed land is normally a routine matter. This case became hotly contested when Cainhoy residents learned the land was to become part of a larger development involving waterfront restaurants and a dry-stack marina.

The zoning issue had already been to City Council twice, and to the Planning Commission twice, before returning to City Council on Tuesday.

Again, residents of Cainhoy Village argued against the proposed zoning known as Rural Residential-1, which allows 3.5 homes per acre. That's fewer homes per acre than most neighboring properties are zoned for, city staff noted.

Council members were divided. "I think it's the beginning of a whole slippery slope for the Cainhoy area," said Councilwoman Kathleen Wilson.

Other council members said the city couldn't leave the property with no zoning designation, and that any plan for a larger development would come later, and should be dealt with then.

"Without a zoning designation on this site, there is no control," said Councilman Gary White.

The vote to approve the RR-1 zoning was 8-4, with council members Wilson, Robert Mitchell, William Dudley Gregorie, and Larry Shirley opposed. Councilwoman Deb Morinelli was absent, and Mayor Joe Riley voted with the majority.