So, if you live in Mount Pleasant, would you rather keep driving to West Ashley for your Costco needs, or would you like to shop a little closer to home?

That's not the beginning and end of the argument for developing the 40-acre Gregg Tract and adding a couple of big-box stores east of the Cooper, but it's certainly one way to look at it.

"Do I want to keep people from shopping in North Charleston and West Ashley?" asked Town Councilman Chris Nickels. "Yeah, I'd love them to shop right here in our own backyard."

The application for development of the Highway 17 property should be on the agenda for the Planning Commission's Feb. 22 meeting, probably the first of many, many meetings in the town's lengthy process of reviewing development proposals.

That means lots of opportunities for public comment. Nickels said come early and come often.

Traffic jam

One of the big sticking points for people opposed to the plan is the potential for more traffic, based on the estimated 12,500 additional vehicle trips that the stores could generate.

Not sure 12,500 more car trips would be all that noticeable, given what people here have dealt with in the past.

But Nickels points out that residents may have become so accustomed to bad traffic that they just assume it will continue, despite the $80 million construction project aimed at alleviating that very same problem.

"It might be difficult for folks to set aside 10 years or more of bad experiences," he said, like "coming to a direct halt in front of Boone Hall at 4:30 in the afternoon."

The road widening, the raised interchange at Bowman Road and the light synchronization plan that should allow people to drive down the highway nonstop at the posted speed limit should all make driving here a much more, well, pleasant experience.

Would the town's traffic engineer sign off willy-nilly on a plan that would make it just as bad as it used to be? Sure hope not.

Reality check

There are reasonable options when it comes to development, and then there are unreasonable ones.

Some folks have asked why the land can't be turned into a park. First, the current zoning is for multifamily housing, 9 units per acre. So there's nothing stopping a developer from putting up 360 apartments, townhomes or condos. Sure, there are differences between residential and commercial zoning, but this was never going to be a single-family-home subdivision.

Second, as Nickels points out, somebody bought the property, and they want to make money on it. This, as the GOP presidential candidates keep pointing out, is the American way. If the plan passes the extensive review process, that also means more tax revenue, more business license fees and more jobs.

"I haven't had one person in Mount Pleasant come up and tell me they want their taxes raised," Nickels said.

Maybe those big boxes don't look so bad after all.