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North Charleston residents, warehousing company agree to keep trucks off Reynolds Avenue

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Reynolds Avenue (copy) (copy)

North Charleston's Reynolds Avenue has seen some revitalization, including the new Macon Cafe, but now residents and property owners fear more truck traffic could limit future progress. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

North Charleston residents and community leaders found victory after a months-long battle over trucks and the future of their neighborhood.

Four community groups recently reached a settlement with Frontier Logistics to keep tractor-trailer trucks off Reynolds Avenue.

Neighborhood leaders hope the agreement paves the way for further community investment in a corridor that's been a focal point for revitalization in North Charleston's south end.

The groups include the Chicora-Cherokee Neighborhood Association, Metanoia, Reynolds Avenue Merchants Association, and the Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities.

Rebecca Rushton, president of the Chicora-Cherokee Neighborhood Association, has led efforts since the fall to keep trucks off of Reynolds. This is what happens when people advocate for their neighborhood, she said.

“It really is about standing together and making our voices heard," she said.

Frontier, a transportation and warehousing company planning a 556,000-square-foot warehouse at 1840 and 1850 Reynolds Ave. to transport containers, will prohibit tractor-trailers from entering and exiting the warehouse's Reynolds Avenue entrance, the settlement agreement states.

The company also agreed to direct trucking companies not to route trips on Reynolds. 

The agreement also paves the way for community investment by allotting $1,500 annually to Chicora Elementary School for 10 years and guarantees personal interviews for neighborhood residents who get forklift job training from the community groups.

The settlement also aims to maintain the area's aesthetics. A site plan calls for additional trees and an 8-foot privacy fence around the warehouse.

It also gives the community groups first rights to purchase if Frontier decides to sell a piece of property on the warehouse site. Should that happen, Frontier agrees to make commercially reasonable efforts to support commercial development of the property, according to the settlement.

The agreement gives community leaders grounds to file suit if the company doesn't uphold it's end, the group said.

Ultimately, residents and leaders don't want the warehouse in the area. But community leaders said the agreement provides a win for both parties.

"I feel like the community got the best-case scenario," said the Rev. Bill Stanfield, CEO of the Metanoia, a community development organization that focuses on the south end.

The settlement comes months after The Post and Courier reported that Frontier asked the North Charleston Planning Commission for a rezoning of the 28-acre plot to build a 600,000-square-foot warehouse and have large trucks transport containers between Reynolds and Interstate 26.

Neighborhood leaders pushed back, citing concerns about heavy truck traffic, noise, dust or odor pollution and increased risk of truck cargo spills. Business leaders were afraid the industrial traffic would thwart any progress made so far to transform Reynolds Avenue into a vibrant, walkable center with thrift stores and cafes.

The Planning Commission initially denied the request, but North Charleston's zoning administrator issued a letter stating the city believed the warehouse is permitted within the planned development district zoned area.

After the neighborhood association appealed the decision, Frontier requested to meet with community leaders, aiming to take steps to mitigate concerns.

For the most part, residents and business owners are pleased with the agreement because their top concern was to keep trucks off Reynolds so the corridor can become the commercial hub it once was. And, while it took a petition and appeal to finally sit at the table with Frontier leaders, community leaders said they appreciate their willingness to compromise.

Frontier leaders said they are content, although the agreement did lead to increased expenses with added security and labor costs, CEO George Cook said. The business also leased property on McMillan where trucks will enter to avoid Reynolds.

"We want to be good neighbors," Cook said.

The battle between industrialization near residential areas continues in the city as the new Leatherman Terminal scheduled to open in 2021 on the south end of the former Navy base. North Charleston leaders recently said that stacked containers on Noisette Boulevard don't fit the area, which boasts new apartments and a diving school.

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