Should a picturesque piece of waterfront property in the Cainhoy Village have the same zoning as neighboring properties?
Or should its zoning reflect the very limited development that has taken place in this sleepy bend of Berkeley County?
Those questions were placed before a Charleston zoning board Wednesday, and it voted 7-1 to give the 4.4-acre parcel at 123 Bluffview Lane a comparable zoning as the land surrounding it.
City Council is expected to vote on the issue next week.
The rural-residential category allows up to 3.5 homes per acre — less than the zoning for most surrounding land but more dense than the existing village, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jonathan Yates, an attorney representing some nearby residents, predicted the rezoning would doom the Wando River village.
"What it can do to Cainhoy is nothing short of cultural genocide," he said. "We ask you to not look at the colors on the (zoning) map. Look at what is on the ground. Look at the people living there. Look at the lifestyle."
But Hank Hofford with Bennett Hofford Construction Co., which owns about 56 nearby acres and hopes to buy the 4.4-acre waterfront site from Bill and Emilie Cox, said he will strive to make his development fit in with the area's character.
"We don't have a final plan … we have lots of ideas," he said. "We don't look for controversy. We don't try to force things on people that they don't want. … (but) sadly, it's not in the country anymore."
Planning Commission Chairman Francis McCann said the board doesn't have the power to do what Yates requested. Commissioner Sunday Lempesis said the city can't zone someone's property for conservation when nearby land is zoned for single-family homes. "That's not fair," she said.
MaRae Skinner of Cainhoy Village Road asked that any rezoning be delayed until the city comes up with a more specific development plan for the village. Several other residents also urged the rezoning's defeat or delay.