When the Charleston Air Force Base landed here in 1931, it was the only development in a rural area. Today the base is nearly surrounded by homes and businesses in bustling North Charleston.

The central location is ideal for high-density development, but that's not ideal for Air Force Base operations. A 2004 report shows 1,800 acres of incompatible development in potentially "accident-prone" zones aligned with runways and other areas off the base. Now the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments is compiling a new land-use study to encourage compatible growth.

"Encroachment was one of the issues taken into consideration during the Base Realignment and Closure commission," COG planner Rob Caison said.

Hanahan and Charleston changed their zoning to be compatible when COG urged communities to do so with its first plan in 1993. However, North Charleston took the land study under advisement only. At the time, developers planned to build at Centre Pointe, now home to the Tanger Outlet Center, directly off the end of the base's main runway.

North Charleston Planning Director Bill Gore said that developers placed most of the buildings outside the marked accident zones.

City planners have discussed purchasing unused land around the base with Charleston County Greenbelt Bank Board funds so the land will remain free of development. In the instances where the land has already been marked for high density development, Gore said they will look at transferring development rights to more appropriate areas.

Reach Jessica Johnson at jjohnson@postandcourier.com or 745-5860.

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