In the face of a rising wave of opposition, a controversial plan to develop 40 acres across from Towne Centre as a 400,000-square-foot shopping center has been put on hold.

The Planning Commission was to consider the project Wednesday.

Many nearby residents voiced concerns about traffic, noise and bright lights disrupting the tranquility of their homes. Stormwater drainage management also was a concern.

The tract is surrounded by subdivisions such as Montclair, Snee Farm, Wando Lakes and Wando East. Hundreds of project opponents were prepared to attend the commission meeting to express their concern, said Doug Wilgus, president of the Wando Lakes Homeowners Association.

"It's good news that something has caused them to think twice about it," Wilgus said.

Benjamin Henrich, president of developer Henrich Properties, said the project is not dead but is being re-evaluated in light of the residents' worries.

"Our intention is to reapply," he said.

Henrich Properties released a statement Monday that said it had decided to defer its application. "This decision is the responsible development approach and necessary to the peace of mind of all Mount Pleasant residents," it said.

"We have heard the public concern that this project will negatively impact surrounding area traffic, drainage, noise and light pollution. As a result, Henrich properties has determined that additional review, study and analysis be conducted in order to exhaustively explore each of these impact areas so that we may overwhelmingly alleviate community concerns."

Snee Farm resident Pat Sullivan said she only found out about the project when a story was published Jan. 30 in The Post and Courier.

"I just was up in arms," she said. "I was infuriated."

The developer must wait at least a year to submit a new application unless town officials grant a waiver of that requirement, said Christiane Farrell, director of the town Planning and Development Department.

Henrich Properties said it worked diligently to ensure that the Gregg Tract development complied with the town's Comprehensive Plan.

The firm said it communicated with adjacent property owners and neighborhood associations about its project. An application was filed with the Planning Department in mid-January.

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 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.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.