SUMMERVILLE — More retail centers on the outskirts of town won't conflict with the town's commitment to support historic downtown shops, planners said Tuesday during a preview of what Summerville might look like in the future.
Planners with the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments and members of the town's Planning Commission displayed proposed land-use maps and a video snapshot of what might happen along one major traffic artery in the new Town Hall annex that opened this fall.
Joe Cicero, who manages the Kings Inn on Central Avenue, was concerned about two proposed commercial gateways on U.S. Highway 78 on either side of the downtown district. One is at Heritage Square off Berlin G. Myers Parkway, where residents who work in downtown Charleston catch a bus.
"This is one of the classic ways that downtowns get abandoned," Cicero said before the forum.
Planning Commissioner Jim Reaves said he talked to Cicero and several residents who had shared the businessman's concerns. The proposed gateways would not compete with downtown Summerville shops, because they would draw a different type of business, Reaves said. For instance, a Best Buy might build in one of the gateways but not downtown.
The video showed a concept of what U.S. 78 could look like when it's widened to five lanes west of downtown, which Dorchester County plans to do with sales-tax money. Rather than simply moving traffic, planners visualize the road as a "community-oriented corridor," with a planted median strip in the middle and parking and a mixture of stores, offices and houses and apartments on each side. COG was working on getting the video in a format where it can be posted on the Internet, possibly this week.
Town planners also envision Bacons Bridge Road, which the county also plans to widen to five lanes, as a more narrow community-oriented corridor. The town is asking the county not to widen that road because it's a residential area, Planning Commission Chairwoman Elaine Segelkensaid.
The town's new land-use map shows the area that the town annexed along S.C. Highway 61 across the Ashley River as solid green, consistent with Dorchester County's historic-overlay district, which limits development there to one house for every 3 acres. Summerville annexed property across the river to try to keep North Charleston from annexing the Watson Hill tract for high-density development but has no further plans for growth there, town planners said.
The new comprehensive plan is expected to go to council after the first of the year for more consideration and public comment.